Baseball BeatNovember 30, 2009
The Best Baseball Analysts in the Country
By Rich Lederer

The Baseball Analysts, which Bryan Smith and I co-founded in early 2005, is fast approaching its five-year anniversary. The new site was the result of a merger between Bryan's Wait 'Til Next Year and my Baseball Beat, whose origins go back to the spring of 2003.

Over the ensuing years, Baseball Analysts has witnessed Bryan's departure in 2006, followed by the additions of Jeff Albert that fall; Patrick Sullivan, Marc Hulet, and Joe P. Sheehan the following spring; and Jeremy Greenhouse, Dave Allen, and Sky Andrecheck during spring training 2009. Albert, Sullivan, Sheehan, and Greenhouse all debuted as guest columnists and their Designated Hitter articles earned them permanent spots in our starting lineup.

We eventually lost Albert and Sheehan to Major League Baseball. Albert was hired by the St. Louis Cardinals before the 2008 season to serve as the hitting instructor for the Batavia Muckdogs, its Short-Season Class A affiliate in the New York-Penn League. He was promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals, the club's High-A affiliate in the Florida State League, prior to last season. Earlier this month, the Redbirds announced that Albert will be one of three minor-league hitting coaches returning to their positions for the 2010 campaign.

Sheehan received an internship with the San Diego Padres in 2008 and joined Dan Fox, a former writer for The Hardball Times and Baseball Prospectus, with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the conclusion of that season. Fox, who wrote a few guest columns for Baseball Analysts, is the Director of Baseball Systems Development and the architect of the team's Managing, Information, Tools and Talent (MITT) system.

Along these same lines, I'm proud to report that Sky Andrecheck, in addition to filling his normal Tuesday spot at Baseball Analysts, will be writing a weekly column during the offseason for His first two Behind the Scoreboard articles can be accessed here. It says here that the sky is the limit for the statistician by day and baseball analyst and writer by night.

Andrecheck was also chosen by Dave Studenmund to serve as a guest writer for The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2010. Sky wrote a piece on Championship Leverage Index. He introduced the concept last March in his second contribution at Baseball Analysts. Sky gives credit to Tom Tango for pioneering the concept of Leverage Index, which "puts a value on the importance of each moment in the game." Championship Leverage Index "takes the same idea and applies it in the context of an entire season. Like its in-game cousin, Champ LI quantifies each team's games in terms of the impact they are likely to have on winning a championship." Later in the article, he says Champ LI "essentially measures the probability that the outcome of one game will decide a playoff berth."

Dave Allen was also asked to write an article for THT Baseball Annual, which began shipping in the middle of November. Allen, who has contributed a weekly column for Baseball Analysts since last March and can also be found at Fangraphs, is one of the small number of PITCHf/x specialists. The title of his article is "Where Was That Pitch?" As with all of Dave's excellent studies, this piece is filled with graphs detailing the run values of two- and four-seam fastballs, curveballs, sliders, and changeups by pitch location.

The lowest run value is generally on pitches up and in, as these pitches have a low slugging rate on balls in play (many infield flies) and on pitches down-and-away, which have a low slugging average on balls in play (many ground balls) and a low contact rate. Pitches up-and-away and down-and-in tend to have intermediate run values and vary by pitch type.

Allen references five of his articles at Baseball Analysts and cites our own Joe Sheehan, one of the original PITCHf/x experts; Jeremy Greenhouse, who Mitchel Lichtman (also known as MGL) recently touted as a future front-office employee; and Chris Moore, author of the Best Fastballs in Baseball.

As an owner and connoisseur of the entire run of The Bill James Baseball Abstracts (1977-1988), I can tell you that The Hardball Times Baseball Annual is in that same league of annual baseball publications. You can trust its cover when it promises "timeless commentary, innovative stats, and great baseball writing."

James, in fact, is one of the contributors. He is the author of "Strong Seasons Leading Index," a system that seeks to produce "a list of the players who are most likely—and most unlikely—to sustain or improve on their 2009 seasons." Among players with 400 or more plate appearances last season, Dioner Navarro, Chris Young, and J.J. Hardy score the highest and Jorge Posada, Matt Diaz, and Craig Counsell the lowest. You might want to check out the full list when preparing for your fantasy baseball draft this winter.

Other guest columnists include Craig Wright, John Dewan, Tom Tango, Sean Smith, and Greg Rybarczyk. These highly regarded sabermetricians are joined by the stable of writers at The Hardball Times, including past Designated Hitters at Baseball Analysts Rybarczyk, Craig Calcaterra, David Gassko, Jeff Sackman, Dave Studenmund, Steve Treder, John Walsh, and Geoff Young.

For those readers who have purchased THT Baseball Annual in the past, this is a reminder that you need to get your order in now. For everyone else, I am confident that you will not be disappointed if you pick up a copy for the first time. You can help out the site and many of the best baseball analysts in the country by purchasing the book directly through this link. The small premium involved is a way of saying thanks for all the free stats, information, education, and entertainment you receive at The Hardball Times throughout the year.


Thanks for the reminder. Just purchased it.

Rich, Thanks so much for the post. Sorry that I'm late catching up to it.