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The "Poor Hypothesis Theory of Baseball" and rebuilding the O's


RShack

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I use the descriptor "Poor Hypothesis" to refer to what happens when people have an unproven theory in their heads that makes perfect sense to them... and they think that's a good reason for using the unproven theory in Actual Reality. Other people tell them it's just an empty theory that completely ignores reality, but they don't listen and they act on it anyway. Then, later on, they're all surprised because their theory didn't work in the real world, just like lotsa people told them it wouldn't. The basic point is that, if you start with some unproven theory and start acting like it's correct just because it adds up in your head, what you can end up with is a mess.

I think that's what's happening in some quarters about the rebuild idea. Some folks say we need to get rid of guys who will be thirty-something in 2010. Their basic theory goes like this:

  • By the time they're 30-something, they're past their prime. They're making money based on past performance, and their performance is likely to not be as good as it used to be.
  • Therefore, they won't help and we should trade them now.

When I say the "Neo-con Theory of Baseball", this is what I'm referring to. Other people think this unproven theory is completely silly. The counter-argument boils down to this:

  • Just because a guy is in his 30's, that doesn't mean he's not very good and very valuable. Who cares if most of his good years are behind him? If he's got good years left, then he's got good years left. Since he's been good before, you can still pretty much count on him to be good again. It's a *good* thing to have some good over-30 guys around, not a bad thing.
  • Every player who's any good gets paid more money in his 30's because of how he played before. So what? It's completely normal. It's just how things work, that's all. It's not a bad thing just because your unproven theory doesn't like it. It's not like the O's are broke and can't afford it. It's not like the owner is a cheapskate. He's spent a fortune on bad teams, that's no reason to not spend money on good guys.

So, we have 2 basic points of view here. Which one benefits from the preponderance of evidence? Since the whole idea is that the O's are trying to successful, the relevant evidence would be "What do successful teams look like? Do they have 30-something-year-old players contributing to their success, or not?"

In an effort to answer this question, I looked. I didn't get complicated about it. Here's what I did:

  • I just went to bb-ref and looked at whoever the teams have listed as their starting lineup. I didn't look at AB's or G's or birthdays or anything else. This was just a quick-and-dirty look at it. If you want to do a more complicated analysis, have at it.
  • I counted up how many guys each team had listed with ages that were 31 or higher. (If a guy's age was 30, I didn't count him. The list is about "over 30", it's not about "30 and above".)
  • For AL teams, the lineup is 9 guys because of the DH. For NL teams, it's 8 guys (the starting pitcher doesn't count).
  • I just look at the WS teams plus the LCS losers. I didn't look at teams who didn't get to the LCS because who cares about not even getting to the LCS? Maybe you do, but I don't. (Personally, I don't even care about LCS, I just care about the WS, but I looked at the LCS losers anyway.)
  • I only went back 10 years because if I went further than that, somebody would say that the conclusions don't count because everything is different now (even though it's not). Plus, lots of people like talking about "the last 10 years", so that's what I stuck to.

Here's what I found out about the starting lineups of the LCS-and-above post-season teams for the last 10 years:

  • 2007: The WC champs had 6 of their 9 guys over 30. The WC losers had 2 of 8. The ACLS losers had 3 of 9. The NCLS losers had 1 of 8.
  • 2006: The WC champs had 4 of their 8 guys over 30. The WC losers had 2 of 9. The ACLS losers had 2 of 9. The NCLS losers had 4 of 8.
  • 2005: The WC champs had 2 of their 9 guys over 30. The WC losers had 2 of 8. The ACLS losers had 4 of 9. The NCLS losers had 4 of 8.
  • 2004: The WC champs had 5 of their 9 guys over 30. The WC losers had 5 of 8. The ACLS losers had 5 of 9. The NCLS losers had 4 of 8.
  • 2003: The WC champs had 1 of their 8 guys over 30. The WC losers had 5 of 9. The ACLS losers had 4 of 9. The NCLS losers had 5 of 8.
  • 2002: The WC champs had 1 of their 9 guys over 30. The WC losers had 5 of 8. The ACLS losers had 0 of 9. The NCLS losers had 4 of 8.
  • 2001: The WC champs had 8 of their 8 guys over 30. The WC losers had 6 of 9. The ACLS losers had 5 of 9. The NCLS losers had 3 of 8.
  • 2000: The WC champs had 5 of their 9 guys over 30. The WC losers had 5 of 8. The ACLS losers had 6 of 9. The NCLS losers had 3 of 8.
  • 1999: The WC champs had 4 of their 9 guys over 30. The WC losers had 5 of 8. The ACLS losers had 3 of 9. The NCLS losers had 3 of 8.
  • 1998: The WC champs had 3 of their 9 guys over 30. The WC losers had 6 of 8. The ACLS losers had 4 of 9. The NCLS losers had 3 of 8.

If we slice and dice the numbers, here's what it boils down to:

  • WS champs had 39 of 87 guys over 30. That's 45%.
  • WS losers had 43 of 83 guys over 30. That's 52%.
  • WS teams had 82 of 170 guys over 30. That's 48%.
  • LCS losers had 70 of 170 guys over 30. That's 41%.
  • Counting all of them, they had 152 of 340 guys over 30. That's 45%.
  • Exactly one team had zero over-30 guys. They didn't make it past the LCS, and they haven't been heard from since.
  • Exactly two WS champs had only 1 over-30 guy. Neither team has been back to the WS since.

Based on the evidence, if you want the O's to have a shot at being a good post-season team in 2010, then the whole idea that the O's should not have some over-30 guys in their starting lineup in 2010 is completely silly. If anything, it looks like the O's prolly should make sure that they have about 4 of them, give or take. Especially if they wanna keep going back to the post-season again and again. To say that we should be trading guys just because they'll be over-30 in 2010 is goofy. It's just a wacko theory. There is zero evidence to support it, and lots of evidence that shoots it down. Just because it makes sense in the abstract world of people making up theory-based arguments, that doesn't mean it makes any sense whatsoever in the real world of Actual Baseball. In fact, if you go by what the stats say, Actual Baseball doesn't work that way at all. You can look it up.

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Good post, but...

Much of this trade 'em talk revolves around guys like Millar or Payton who are going to be on the wrong side of 35 by the time the Orioles are "ready" to compete again...or guys like Gibbons, who are "marginal" players.

The rest of it centers around Roberts, who is the last man standing in the Orioles terribly small pile of high value trade pieces.

Flipping guys like Millar and/or Payton at the deadline for prospects seems to be a no-brainer to me.

Roberts remains another kettle of fish altogether. If I'm the guy making the decision to trade him, I'm going to have to be "blown away"...and will probably need to see five players coming back for him.

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Good post, but...

Much of this trade 'em talk revolves around guys like Millar or Payton who are going to be on the wrong side of 35 by the time the Orioles are "ready" to compete again...or guys like Gibbons, who are "marginal" players.

The rest of it centers around Roberts, who is the last man standing in the Orioles terribly small pile of high value trade pieces.

Flipping guys like Millar and/or Payton at the deadline for prospects seems to be a no-brainer to me.

Roberts remains another kettle of fish altogether. If I'm the guy making the decision to trade him, I'm going to have to be "blown away"...and will probably need to see five players coming back for him.

I don't think there's a "but". Not sure anybody is big on hanging on to Payton and Millar.

AFAIK, nobody ever said that being over-30 is a good reason to keep somebody.

The problem is that people are saying that being over-30 in 2010 is a good reason to get rid of guys who'd you be happy to have if only their birthday was different. It's not.

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Is this whole thing about Roberts?

Roberts is a free agent after 2009.

They can trade him away for talent now and sign him (or some other over-30 free agent) when they are closer to contention.

If you're talking about Scott/Sherrill, then I tend to agree, but Roberts needs to go.

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As Roberts is unlikely to resign, he won't be of much use in 2010.

1. You don't know that. You might think that, but you don't know it. It's just another theory.

2. That's a completely different theory about a different issue.

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Definitely want to read that entire synopsis, but don't have the time right now. I did want to make a quick point.

From my point of view, the idea of trading roberts has nothing to do with he can't help the team win (although I've seen that thrown out there). It has more to do with he is one of the few players the Orioles have that other teams have real interest in. So it is a matter of trading him to get the most back in return. It's really more of an idea of quantity over quality, until we get some quality of our own/rebuilding the farm system, or whatever you want to call it.

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I think you are missing the point completely in two ways.

First, he problem isn't the ages of the players now, it is the ages of the players when we will be ready to compete. Hernandez, Bradford and Huff will be in their mid-30s, Mora and Walker in their late-30s.

Second, all the players in question (Hernandez, Mora, Millar, Huff, Bradford, Walker) will have had their contracts expire before that point. So it makes no sense to keep ones who have real value in trades outside of the bullpen, and even then at a certain point they should be traded.

Roberts is a case that is unrelated to your point, because he isn't being traded because he'll be 32-33 when we will be competing, but because:

1) his contract expires after 2009, when he could easily leave.

2) he has the kind of trade value that could bring important pieces back for when we will be competing.

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Your theory makes no sense when applying it to the present-day Orioles.

The O's are not anywhere close to the WS, so they shouldn't have 45% of their players at 30 or over. Right now they should be finding as many players in their mid-20's as they can, guys who have a chance to be here for a long time.

By the time this team is ready for the playoffs, I fully expect some over-30 guys on the team. They are usually the free agents you sign you put your team over the top.

The guys we have now, who are over 30, are the first ones to be traded, when trades are being made. The chances of them being good by the time the O's are ready for the playoffs is pretty much impossible.

But the bottom line is that rebuilding teams do not and will not base their rebuilding on over-30 players.

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1. You don't know that. You might think that, but you don't know it. It's just another theory.

2. That's a completely different theory about a different issue.

But it's one of the two main issues in why he is being shopped, along with his value. Your point is minor.

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1. You don't know that. You might think that, but you don't know it. It's just another theory.

And you don't know anything to the contrary to prove that he's wrong in saying that. All reports from Roberts have basically been him saying he wants to stay but that he also wants to win, which really doesn't mesh with the O's current state, so that leads me (and many others) to believe that he will be gone if the O's are not ready to compete in 2010.

2. That's a completely different theory about a different issue.

Not really. When you are looking at players nearing the end of their contracts, and that player is 30+, chances are he will not be the player he is now, when you are ready to compete.

People here may be dealing with generalized theories about rebuilding and staying young, and of course there will be exceptions to the rule, but that doesn't mean they are wrong.

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Your theory makes no sense when applying it to the present-day Orioles.

I said, "Based on the evidence, if you want the O's to have a shot at being a good post-season team in 2010, then the whole idea that the O's should not have some over-30 guys in their starting lineup in 2010 is completely silly. If anything, it looks like the O's prolly should make sure that they have about 4 of them, give or take."

What part of "in 2010" don't you understand? Jeez.

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I said, "Based on the evidence, if you want the O's to have a shot at being a good post-season team in 2010, then the whole idea that the O's should not have some over-30 guys in their starting lineup in 2010 is completely silly. If anything, it looks like the O's prolly should make sure that they have about 4 of them, give or take."

What part of "in 2010" don't you understand? Jeez.

OK, I missed that point. Maybe I was locked and loaded and not seeing clearly. :D

But who is debating you on this? I would agree with you 100%.

And what is wrong with trading Roberts now and then trying to re-sign him if the O's show that they are ready to compete for the playoffs in 2010?

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Definitely want to read that entire synopsis, but don't have the time right now. I did want to make a quick point.

From my point of view, the idea of trading roberts has nothing to do with he can't help the team win (although I've seen that thrown out there). It has more to do with he is one of the few players the Orioles have that other teams have real interest in. So it is a matter of trading him to get the most back in return. It's really more of an idea of quantity over quality, until we get some quality of our own/rebuilding the farm system, or whatever you want to call it.

This is the opposite of what AM has said. He said that we have gotten the quantity we needed in the Tejada and Bedard trades and we are now looking for quality above quantity.

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