Thread: Stage Four

It doesn’t exist. But we keep hoping.

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I agree with Eugene about breaking the agreement or disagreement or whatever. The most frequently asked question among my Wise Guy readers is "where is Shandler wrong?" Which is, incidentally, quite a compliment to Ron. You will probably be appalled though, Eugene, to learn that I don't use projections at all. If I did I would use my own, which would make any team I drafted a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I think that the market still overvalues last year. Less so than in the past, and it's not like last year doesn't matter because it certainly does, but among hitters anyway there seems to be a deficiency in understanding ebb and flow. Especially the high-K flyball hitters who tend to fluctuate like crazy. And the three players Eugene mentions were all post-hypers, who are conceptual cousins of Last Years Heroes and Bums.
Gene McCaffrey GeneM
Feb 11 '12
There's no question that the unofficial scorers at every ballgame, coupled with the BIS video scouts, coupled with John Dewan, have ushered in a wealth of new information. Some of which, not all, is very useful.

So that's a challenge. Knowing everything consists of knowing more and figuring out which of the new stuff is important to know. But I would say it all comes out in the wash as a bid, not as a projection. Intuition enters into our bids; there's still a place for that.
Alex Patton Alex
Feb 11 '12
I see Stage 4 as using the modern projection tools. Of course none of them are perfect, but some better than others. Plugging those into the formulae and finding which players differ from the Stage 3 agreed upon prices. If Stage 3 is where everyone knows what every player is worth and all agree, then Stage 4 is breaking that disagreement, even if by a handful of players and then buying them. They may not be the players you build around. The studs are all going to be paid for as studs. But, if those studs are evenly distributed and yours aren't injured, but you win on the Melky Cabreras, Jeff Franceours, and Asdrubal Cabreras of the world last year in the AL, then you're golden. You just have to find the projection system that more consistently than your opponents values those players more than the common wisdom without doing that with too many players.

It's a nearly impossible balance because the best systems are around 72% accurate across the league. But, I've found that they can highlight the value of certain non-saver relievers worth owning and frequently they like players coming off one bad year more than a tepid bounce-back-but-worried bid.
Eugene Freedman EugeneFreed
Feb 11 '12
I love the Jason Grey story. That is Stage 4: a ferocious argument about who is better than whom. You split your atoms, I'll split mine. You see the same thing at all the NFBC drafts. And it's not all ragging either, there's plenty of praise, if the commentators happen to agree about the players.

Another way to look at capture rate is to see how many dollars were spent on how much crap. The Wrong Rate.
Gene McCaffrey GeneM
Feb 10 '12
I had a notion last November about how to test the proposition that we know more now than we did in 2000. I mean, how could we not? We have all this new data and analysis, but how to measure what we knew then and compare it to what we know now was confounding. Each, the past and the present, is a moving target inside a moving target. A conundrum enveloped by an enigma, as Woody Allen sort of said. But while stewing on this an idea came to me, as they often do, one morning when I was waking up.

So I spent the next few days typing Tout Wars results into a spreadsheet. This wasn't easy, because the data is stored in different places and in different forms, but I was able to parse out five or six years of data, some old and some more recent, and then I compared the Tout Wars league totals with the major league totals. I called the resulting number the Capture Rate.

The Capture rate the last couple of years was ever so slightly better than it was in 2004-2006. Ever so slightly. Despite BABIP and xFIP and knowing how often a batter swings at balls in and out of the strike zone, and how often he swings and misses, we're still picking the same fruit (plus maybe one extra Gala and two cherries) off the tree.

That's the essence of Stage 3.

And I'm with you Gene, Stage 4 is a reaction to Stage 3's stasis, a challenge, and that pretty much is the definition of postmodernism, so I dig that. But since we're now trying to describe Stage Four the way we might describe Nick Punto, only without the insults, let me say I think I caught a glimpse of El Quattro's essence a couple of years ago at Citi Field, after the Tout AL draft.

Tout AL was drafting at the same time as many New York NFBC leagues, in luxury boxes at the Mets' ball yard. After the draft was over some NFBC players wandered into the Tout Wars room and examined the draft board.

"Look at Grey's team," one of the dudes said, talking about then ESPN analyst and scout school graduate Jason Grey.

"I know," said the other. Both were shaking their heads.

"That's a terrible team," said the first one, and they moved on.

At season's end, that team won Tout AL in devastating and boring glory. It was never challenged, all season long.

That same year, I was playing against Jason in Cardrunners, also an AL league, and Jason adopted a similar strategy. And his team broke badly and was never in contention. But what caught my eye was that Chris Liss, in that league, had drafted a similar team as well, and broke good, and led for most of the season.

All of which got me to thinking about risk taking and wondering whether risk aversion made any sense at all in a game where everyone knows everything. And that's the moment, as MikeG will tell you, where Stage 4 becomes Stage 2.

Where modernism goes post.

Speaking of posts, this one is way too long. The Interlocutor is burning my buns. If you do well in your league all the time, why is that?
Peter Kreutzer Rotoman
Feb 10 '12
OK, so those Vans I bought aren't going to help me?
GEOFF CRESAP SydThrift
Feb 10 '12
Stage 4 is postmodernism. Everybody knows everything, except that nobody KNOWS anything. Granted, when Alex introduced the Stage 3 concept he was speaking, well, conceptually. But just think of how much more we know now than we did in 2000. Stats that didn't exist then are now the be-all and end-all. So we do keep learning.

The great thing about postmodernism at its best is that you can take anything of value from anywhere and combine it with other things of value to create something new. Or if not exactly new, then an improvement. That's what we're all doing now - going through scrolls of stats to mine the ah-ha! nugget that tells us a little something we didn't know before. Put them together and a picture starts to emerge.

The strategies of phases 1-3 all have their place, but show me a strategy and I'll show you a first place team and a last place team using that strategy. It's all about the players, and it always was. So Stage 4 is learning as much as you can, and integrating everything that you know into a team. Actually that should have been phase 1.

Side note: as I understood Alex on Stage 3, he was noting that the Lenny & Irwin, Ron Shandler approach was working in the roto world of that time. Spread the risk, don't overpay, be disciplined at the table - all sensible ideas. I also remember thinking at that time "if everybody starts doing this it won't work anymore" - it only works when there is an over-enthusiastic market to play against. Otherwise, you can beat it by not overpaying for the superstars that spread-the-risk shuns. This has happened to some extent.
Gene McCaffrey GeneM
Feb 10 '12
I have a feeling I'm going to have to be the Interlocutor. Shouldn't Stage Four's bis ID be 666666?
Peter Kreutzer Rotoman
Feb 9 '12
Way to wreck it for us, Toz.

Yes, Peter, I have. It's right here!
Alex Patton Alex
Feb 9 '12
I sure did, from Vans:

The Stage 4 model skate shoes comes in two different designs and four distinct color combinations. Pfanner and Crocker chose a mid style pair of skate shoes and the other two went for a lower style. Ferguson and Allen chose bold, primary colors (navy blue and burgundy) for their model skate shoes whereas Pfanner and Crockett went with earth tones (grey and black). All four pairs of Stage 4 skate shoes feature hidden laces, reinforced toe caps and a new sole that takes advantage of a new technology called the wafflecup.
John Toczydlowski Toz
Feb 9 '12