Sunday, August 28, 2016

2016 Playoff Preview Part 1- Past Trends



I’ve written in the past about the few common elements that for seemingly mostly coincidental reasons are shared by many of our league’s champions. Rather than delve into these elements, here is a quick recap. 

For whatever reasons, league champions tend to:

·         Include at least two first-year players (5 out of the last 6 winners)

·         Include no players from the previous year’s championship teams. (Darren Freeman was the last player to play for two consecutive champions. This was back in 2009 and 2010.)

·         Come from a top 8 runs scored team. (Since this data was part of the “standings” page, all 6 champions were in the top 8 for runs scored that year. As far as top defenses, only half the champions this decade were in the top 8 for Runs Against)

The most recent trend concerns the rebound performances by captains who were knocked out early in the previous year’s playoffs.  Since 2013, every captain who made the finals was knocked out in the first round the previous year. This obviously excludes Marrone in 2013 since it was his first year being a captain. 

Here’s a list of the captains knocked out in the first round 2015, now primed for a run at the finals:
Goldfarb, Younger, Randell, Applebaum, Lapine, Jacoby, Marrone , Pollock

Just like the previous indicators, this should be chalked up to coincidence. I don’t buy into any theory that a captain is anymore hungrier the year after an early exit. Still, it’s fun to look at what teams are primed for a championship based on these trends.
Here are the teams who fit the criteria for each of the championship trends listed above:

Two Rookies: Pollock, Lapine, Applebaum, Sarcona, Goldfarb, Beilis, Jacoby, Granese, Marrone, Randell
No Repeat Champions: Pollock, Lapine, Sarcona, Younger, Beilis, Paladino, Wallman, Jacoby, Bykofsky, Feldman, Randell
Top 8 in Runs Scored: Bykofsky, Jacoby, Applebaum, Goldfarb, Wallman, Randell, Pollock, Marrone

Here is how many of the four trends each team has going for them going into this year’s playoffs:
Lapine- 3
Jacoby -4
Goldfarb- 3
Harris- 0
Wallman- 2
Randell- 4
Marrone- 3
Feldman- 1
Sarcona- 2
Pollock- 4
Granese- 1
Applebaum- 3
Younger- 2
Bykofsky- 2
Paladino- 1
Beilis- 2

Once again, this is a purely fun way of predicting who will win the championship based on recent trends. In fact, “Top 8 in Runs Scored” is the only category here that is based on performance.  Logically, a team’s chances of winning should not diminish if one of its members played for last year’s champions. Nonetheless, here are the only teams who fit all four criteria. 

Jacoby
Randell
Pollock

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Are These Records Meant To Be Broken?

Before I get into this individual stat heavy edition of the blog, let me state for the record:
 
1)  Yes, winning games is more important than individual stat performance.

2) Of course these numbers are based on questionable scoring decisions. I don’t know how many scorebooks give people credit for doubles when it should be a single+advancing to second on a throw or give credit for RBI when a run scores on an errant throw, etc.


Despite these flaws, I believe our keeping of statistics helps make this league unique. If you disagree, fine. But if you never visit the league leaders page on the website, then you probably shouldn’t read the rest of this blog post. Don’t do it! Trust me. You won’t be happy.

This blog entry is going to focus on the record holders in several key offensive categories in the Post Stat Era. I’ve never established a name for this time period which is 2010-present. So for now on, I’m calling it the PSE. We’ll look at the PSE leaders and the chances the record will be broken this year. This blog entry, therefore, serves as my attempt to jinx Team Bykofsky since they are currently on pace to break every team and individual record to date.

Batting Average:   Ron Carlin- .704 in 2011

Every year around this point in the season I think this is going to be the year that batting averages go through the roof. All the great hitters are going to figure out how to get a hit almost every at bat and we’ll have a leaderboard full of .600 averages.
In fact, here are the number of .600 seasons each year starting in 2010:
2010: 3
2011: 4
2012: 6
2013: 7
2014: 11
2015: 9

The steady growth (until a slight dip last year) strengthens my belief that we’ll eventually view .600 seasons the way we used to view .550 seasons. This makes it all the more remarkable that the PSE record for highest batting single season batting average happened all the way back in 2011. To put it in more perspective, in 2011 there were 32 players who hit .500. Fast forward to 2015 and that number has jumped to 45. During a time when offense, or generous stat keeping, is increasing, Mr. Carlin is the only player to maintain a .700 average the whole season.

Right now you can’t even make it onto the leaderboard unless you have an average above .611. It’s hard to remember that all it takes is one 0 for performance to knock you off the pedestal. It’s even harder to remember that this can happen to anyone, even those who seem programmed to get a hit every at bat.

Right now we have the following players who eclipse the .704 mark set in 2011:
Joe Mamone .742
Steve Schefkind .722
Pat Brock .708
Robert Bykofsky .704

These are all top players who would not at all be fluky contenders for putting together a record setting season.  The same goes for Ed Fradkin (.684), Justin Bykofsky (.690), Dave Polzer (.667) and rookie stud Anthony Dimarco (.667) who are just a few hits shy of .700. Yet we could probably have this same discussion every year. There is some sort of reassuring feeling that the law of averages tend to catch up to all of us. It makes that journey to .700 all the more tantalizing.  So will it be done this year? Like every time early June I’m tempted to say YES! This is the year where the offensive explosion results in a new PSE batting champ. But the realist in me thinks, “Don’t fall for it”. Each of these players is one 0-4 away from making this an extremely uphill battle.

RBI:  Lenny Sarcona- 46 in 2010

Like the record for batting average, it’s pretty amazing that as offensive numbers have increased, the PSE record established early in the decade still stands. There have been a few other times players have come close to reaching 46. Last year, Justin Callow topped out at 43 while in 2013 both James Dell’alba and Lee Kushner finished with 43. This year, however, may represent the best shot at someone reaching 50 RBI for the first time as Joe Spoto is on pace for roughly 2,445 RBI this season. 

Seriously though, his 24 RBI in 6 games has him on pace for an incredible 88 RBI for the season. What helps Spoto’s cause, and I truly don’t mean this as a jinx, is he’s no fluke and neither are the guys batting ahead of him in the lineup.

As I mentioned before when talking about batting averages, it is only expected that the Bykofskys are going to cool off a little. But even with a slump being factored into the equation, Spoto can break the record of 46.

And while Spoto may break the record for RBI in a season, one of his current records may fall. . . .

Doubles: Joe Spoto 21 in 2014

This may sound ridiculous, but watching Spoto turn a seemingly ordinary single into a double is one of my favorite things to watch on Sunday mornings. Here’s someone who knows he’s so fast, and so much has to go right for an outfielder to throw him out at second, that he does not even hesitate when rounding first base.

I think as players begin emulating this style more, we’ll see this record fall. There are a handful of speedsters who can make this happen, one being Offensive Player of the Month Joe Mamone. Mamone is on pace for 35 doubles, so he’s a natural candidate to break Spoto’s mark. The number 21 has been approached many times before. Since 2011, four players (Justin and Pat Brock, Ed Fradkin, and Andy Pargament) have finished the season with 19 doubles.

In addition to Mamone with 11, we also have Pat Brock who is on pace to record a slightly more modest 33 doubles. Both Mamone and Brock play with a style similar to Spoto. They know their speed is so great that a double is almost automatic based on where outfielders are playing them. It’s this philosophy that we’ll be looking at a new doubles king by the end of the season.


Coming soon I’ll look at a few more records that may or may not be challenged this season. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Reversal of Fortune

As my team sits at 1-6, I was hoping to find some interesting fact that falls under the category of “Misery Loves Company”. Luckily, I found one. Only one team that had a winning record last year has a winning record this year. Here are last year’s .500 or better teams with their 2015 win/loss records in parentheses.

2014:

Applebaum (2-5)
Jacoby (3-4)
Randell (2-5)
Carlin (1-5)
Wallman (2-4)
Beilis (7-0)

Teams that have won the championship this decade(Lapine, Pollock, Harris, Jacoby, Applebaum) are a combined 11-24.

The flip side to this is teams who had a season to forget in 2014 are having much more success this year. Captains who  were 9-13 or worse in 2014 are 26-11 in 2015.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Power Rankings

Here are the power rankings with no commentary. Hopefully I'll be able to write something up this weekend:

1. Goldarb
2. Beilis
3. Younger
4. Bykofsky
5. Paladino
6. Feldman
7. Harris
8. Marrone

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Championship Indicators

This championship prediction is based solely on recent trends. I acknowledge that most of these trends are based partly on coincidences. For instance, it’s been awhile since a championship team has had a member from the previous year’s winning team as well. Does this mean any team with a member from 2014 Applebaum is less likely to win it all in 2015? Of course not. But just for fun, let’s look at recent championship trends to help determine the most likely champions of the 2015 season.

Here are the facts I find most interesting:

1.  Only one team since 2004(and possibly even further back than that) has won the championship while drafting a shortstop in the first round.

                   That’s amazing! Only 2013 Team Jacoby bucked the trend when they won with Darren Kay as their first round pick. Just look at other recent first round picks of championship teams:
2014 Applebaum(JZ)
2012 Harris (Callow)
2011 Pollock (JZ)
2010 Lapine (Roland)
2009 Randell (Greenspan)
2008 Mesmer (Mesmer)
You see my point. It’s pretty incredible. This year the teams who drafted a non-shortstop in the first round are:

Applebaum, Jacoby, Feldman, Goldfarb, Carlin, Pollock, Wallman, Bykofsky.

2.       Since 2002 there have only been two players to appear on back to back championship teams. It hasn’t happened since 2010.

First of all, yes, it’s sad that I researched this information. Being that we drafted Herm Suarez and Ken Glazier this year, we don’t believe drafting returning champions is a curse, but it is an interesting coincidence. There should be no reason why a winner can’t repeat the feat the following year. Law of averages says when a team of 13 players is spread across many teams the following year, one of them is bound to repeat as champions. For whatever reason, it just has not worked out that way. Teams that have zero members of last year champions are:


Harris, Younger, Lapine, Beilis, Feldman, Goldfarb, Carlin, Granese, Marrone

3.       For the last five years, the championship team ranked in the top half of runs scored.

I did not project how many runs each team would score this year, but we can at least look at the recent trends for the only two teams who fit criteria 1 and 2.; Teams Carlin and Feldman.

Team Carlin Offensive Ranks 2010-2014:
2010: 4th
2011: 4th
2012: 9th
2013: 6th
2014: 3rd

Team Feldman Offensive Ranks 2010-2014:
2010: 14th
2011: 16th
2012: 4th
2013: 3rd
2014: 13th

Although Feldman has had a few seasons near the top of the offensive ranks, Carlin has been there more consistently.

This is why after looking at the three key indicators that have (largely by mere coincidences) predicted recent winners of the Marlboro Softball league, Team Carlin is the favorite to win the 2015 Marlboro Softball Championship.

As far as my own personal prediction, I have to go with the team that is #1 in my own pre-season power rankings, Team Younger.

My team will be happy to prove my own prognostics wrong. So will your team. Let the games begin.



Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pre-Season power rankings

Instead of doing a league wide breakdown, I’m only going to focus on the top 8 teams. This counts as the pre-season power rankings which will be updated next right before the first Wednesday night softball game.

1. Team Younger:  While it’s no secret that my brother and I tend to draft more offense laden teams, we appreciate that drafting pitching and defense is a safe way of ensuring, at minimum, a consistently competitive team. Clampffer/Kay/Younger gives this team the best up the middle defense in the league. The rest of their defense is above average as well, but the player who will make the biggest difference is newcomer Joe Joroski. I feel his outfield presence will help Team Younger overcome what might be just a moderately successful offense and mirror what Team Younger looked like in 2012 and what Team Jacoby put together in 2013 and 2014.

2. Team Harris: The big news story at the draft(ar at least from watching it on the computer) was the trade that made Dave Silverberg, one of the most feared sluggers  in the league, essentially a 4th rounder. They may have the best 1-5 in the league and with late round pop from Messinger and the Trittos, the lineup has good depth as well. Defense is solid, if not spectacular. Getting Kastner as their pitcher in the 5th round is a great bargain. One of the best teams in the league.

3. Team Pollock:  I’m aware I’m putting our team higher than where most experts have us, but let me start with an anecdote. After a fantasy baseball draft around 10 years ago, I asked my friend, who now has a second job writing for FanGraphs, how he felt about his team.  He said confidently, “If my own projections don’t have my team as being the best then something went horribly wrong”. Sure we like our team a lot. We would not have drafted the players we did if we didn’t feel like it would make us the most successful. In typical Pollock fashion, our offense is our biggest strength; we have the deepest lineup in the league. While some questions about defense might be fair to ask, we know we will hold our own, especially with Herm on the mound.

4. Team Wallman: I love the depth of this lineup as well as how solid they are at practically every position. Roland, Carlin, Jackson, Schwartz are all proven all-stars, but the sleeper here is Mark Stewart. He had a great season two years ago along with being one of the best third basemen in the league. Wallman’s draft is full of players who could have and should have been drafted a round earlier than where they went, especially Carlin, Schwartz, Rosenblum.

5. Team Carlin: Every year Carlin puts together a solid team, and this year is no different. Carlin’s offense is balanced with big power threats like Goldstein and Conti along with some of the best on base guys  like Carlin, Hor, Silbermans. Ronnie Carlin also drafted doubles machine Wayne Sherman, who used to be the most underrated hitter in the league but will finally be getting his due this year. Overall, I see Team Carlin’s squad as being very similar to Team Harris. Great hitting team with enough defense to keep them at the top of the standings.

6. Team Feldman: There are certain teams who you can pretty much copy and paste the same pre- season thoughts only needing to replace same player names. Team Feldman is one of those teams. Great outfield defense, but will there be enough offense to carry the load? I liked their offense a little more at the beginning of 2014, which is why they landed at the #1 spot of 2014’s Pre-season rankings. Still, they have enough hitting to give Feldman hope he can improve upon his decade worst 3-11 playoff record.

7. Team Goldfarb: Goldfarb’s team will be a challenger for best defense in the league, which is enough to put them in the top 8 of the pre-season rankings. Their overall success will largely depend on pitching which at this time seems to be a question mark. I’d also feel more comfortable predicting a 13+ win season if they had one or two more big bats, but they’re still a team that will be in contention all year.

8. Team Bykofsky: With an outfield that includes Mamone and Bykofsky, an infield that has solid defenders throughout, and perennial Cy Young candidate Rob Bykofsky on the mound, this team should be the best team Justin has had as captain. Whether or not the lineup has enough pop is yet to be seen, but they have enough to contend for the #1 or 2 seed.



"I Get No Respect": A Look At The Relationship Between Projections aAnd Actual Records

There is so much excitement leading up to the draft each year that it’s easy to forget the long down time afterwards before the season actually begins again. There’s one post draft ritual which we can look forward to satisfying our thirst for anything softball. . . projections! While most captains receive favorable write-ups(The overall Win/Loss predictions always total more than the .500 record it should be), there are some players whose excitement turns a little sour after reading about a predicted poor season ahead. As a member of a projected 8-14 team, I know that feeling well. I’ve had numerous experiences with the disappointment as two of my recent teams were projected to go 7-15 and 9-13. This feeling of déjà vu got me thinking a few questions. Which captains continuously get the best and worst projections? And most importantly, Which captains have done the best job of exceeding and falling short of projections? Ask no longer; here are the results.

First, here is a ranking from best to worst of each current captain’s collective projected records from 2011-2014. I left off 2015 because I just want to compare projected records with actual records:

(Note: Some projects equaled more than 22 games for some reason. In these cases, I took it off the win total. For example, if a team was projected to go 12-11, I counted it as 11-11.)

1. Jacoby .652 (43-23)
2. Wallman .568 (50-38)
3. Randell .545 (48-40)
4. Carlin .534 (47-41)
4. Feldman .534 (47-41)
4. Harris .534 (47-41)
7. Beilis .511 (45-43)
8. Lapine .500 (44-44)
8. Goldfarb .500 (44-44)
8. Younger .500 (44-44)
11. Marrone .477 (21-23)
12. Granese .466 (41-47)
13. Applebaum .455 (40-48)
14. Pollock .443 (39-49)
15. Bykofsky .341 (15-29)

Here are the actual combined season records for each team 2011-2014:

1. Wallman      .611 (54-34)
2. Jacoby         . 606 (40-26)
3. Carlin           .568 (50-38)
3, Younger       .568 (50-38)
3. Applebaum  .568 (50-38)
6. Pollock         .534 (47-41)
7. Goldfarb      .511 (45-43)
7. Feldman        511 (45-43)
9. Lapine          500 (44-44)
10. Beilis      .  489 (43-45)
11. Harris        .477  (42-46)
12. Randell      .432 (38-50)
12. Granese     .432 (38-50)
14. Bykofsky   .409 (18-26)
15. Marrone     .295 (13-31)



Here now is the ranking that I care most about for this study. Here's a ranking of captains in order of how much they have exceeded projections by percentage points since 2011. 

1. Applebaum .113
2. Pollock       .091
3. Bykofsky    .068
3. Younger      .068
5. Wallman     .046
6. Carlin          .034
7. Goldfarb     .011
8. Lapine         same as projections
9. Beilis          -.022
10. Feldman   -.023
11. Granese    -.034
12. Jacoby      -.046
13. Harris       -.057
14. Randell     -.113
15. Marrone    -.182

A few notes about the results:

1. A few team's placement on this list are surprising given their overall success and lack thereof. Bykofsky is listed as a team that has overachieved expectations yet only has a .409 winning percentage. On the other end of the spectrum, Jacoby is listed as a team that has not lived up to expectations, yet they have the second best winning pecentage since 2011. It shows you just how consistency high expectations are for Jacoby's teams.

2. I'm surprised my team isn't #1 on this list. Every year I call Matt and tell him I think our team is being underestimated. Usually I'm right since we ARE still #2 on the "exceeding expectations" list. Applebaum's #1 ranking is largely thanks to a 19-3 campaign which would have surpassed even an enormous projection, let alone the 11-11 prediction they actually received. 

3. What our team and Applebaum have in common is that we're generally built around offense, I think teams built around hitting are wrongly dismissed a lot quicker than teams built around defense. That's a study for another day. 

4. On a final note, with this year's projections, Team Pollock now has the lowest collective predicted record from 2011-present. We look forward to continuing our history of exceeding expectations.