Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Great Sabermetric and Pitch f/x Writeup on Wei-yin Chen

Great sabermetric and pitch f/x writeup on Wei-yin Chen's improvement over prior years, with a higher groundball rate, an only slightly lower K rate, and very few walks. The analysis is much better than this goofy piece from Chen's rookie season. The latter is basically saying that Chen got batters to whiff on strikes high up in the strikezone, pitches that usually go for homeruns. Donut3 in the comments section sarcastically remarked, "Extreme flyball pitcher pitching in Camden with a tiny HR/FB percentage. This will definitely last." Indeed, Chen's HR rate soared.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How Competitive is Taiwanese Professional Baseball? A Look at CPBL Hitting.

Most fans of professional baseball in Taiwan (CPBL) will tell you that its competitiveness stands at around AA level. Some outsiders assess it as A+. Clay Davenport of Baseball Prospectus, who has rated the Japanese baseball as higher than AAA, and the Korean league as AA, guessed that the CPBL was about A+ after a cursory glance.

To answer this question, I use Clay Davenport's methodology of comparing performances of players who played across different leagues. His work in league comparisons has been the most extensive, being the only sabermetrician to assess foreign leagues. Looking at foreign position players who played in the CPBL from 2005-13, as well has Taiwanese position players who have played in the Americas, with at least 90 common plate appearances in each league, I compare their equivalent averages (EqAs) both playing in Taiwan and in the Americas (that includes the MLB, MiLB, and Dominican, Venezuelan, Puerto Rican, and Mexican winter leagues). I divide their Davenport-Translated EqAs in the other leagues by their EqAs in the CPBL. Then I take the weighted average of that percentage to determine the CPBL's competitiveness level in batting. I find that the CPBL has a rating of 0.74, which is below AA level. I also find that Taiwanese players who return improve their performances by a much wider margin than foreigners who play in Taiwan. If the CPBL were a major league, foreigners increase their performance by 33% on average. Taiwanese players increase their performance by 48%.

This is how Taiwan stacks against other leagues:
League Rating
MLB 1.000
Nippon Professional Baseball 0.92
International League (AAA) 0.89
Pacific Coast League (AAA) 0.85
Eastern League (AA) 0.82
Southern League (AA) 0.82
Texas League (AA) 0.80
Mexican League (AAA) 0.78
Chinese Professional Baseball League [Hitting Only] 0.74

In the future, I will redo the assessment for pitchers, and include the 2014 season, as well as use more park-centric park factors.

Methodology and Sources
I took all position players who played in the CPBL from the 2005-13 seasons, computed their EqAs in the CPBL. Numbers to calculate EqA were culled from the CPBL website, which had individual and league statistics for each year in existence. The EqA formula is available from Baseball Prospectus.

If you look at the formula, you will see that the EqA formula includes park factors (PFs). CPBL "fake" PFs for the years 2005-10 were calculated by Taiwanese sabermetrician Madboy. As explained in a previous post, the tongue-in-cheek name stems from the lack of a fixed stadium for each CPBL team. Since Madboy's "cooked" PFs for 2011 were a two-year average, I should augment it with the 2012 raw PFs. Using the same methodology from Baseball-Reference.com that Madboy used, I calculated the 2012 raw figure then computed the 2011 "cooked" figure with the following formula F2011=(2*F2011+RAW2012)/3. I also calculated 2011 independently. My results differed from Madboy, so for consistency I used my own to compute 2012's "cooked" figure.

For each player, I compared their EqA in the CPBL to their Davenport-Translated EqA in the major, minor, or Winter leagues, available and claydavenport.com. The comparative methodology I am about to describe is basically the same Clay Davenport used to assess the Japanese league. The only difference is that I use 90 minimal common plate appearances (PAs) as opposed to 100. The EqA have already been translated into their major-league equivalents. If a player played in a league that has Davenport-translated states before and after playing in Taiwan, I count them as two observations. Take Manny Ramirez for example. I count both the majors/minors to CPBL and the CPBL-Round Rock (AA). For the American/Japanese/Korean leagues, I use one to three seasons before or after the CPBL year, whatever is necessary to get my 200 PAs. Then I divide the Davenport-Translated EqA by the CPBL EqA and take the weighted average off each observation.

Claydavenport.com had translated EqAs for every player and every year needed, except players who played in the Mexican League pre-2005. That Clay Davenport did not have them is understandable, as the MiLB website has Mexican League statistics only back to 2005. League statistics are required to normalize a player's EqA relative to the league's level. And the universe contained two players that played in the Mexican League in 2004 before playing in the CPBL in 2005: Mario Encarnacion and Wilton Veras. Fortunately, baseball-reference.com provided the league totals for 2004. I calculated their EqAs, using park factors for their teams available from the Baseball Prospectus 2005 Annual, and then applied Clay Davenport's multiplier for the league of 0.780.

The multipliers for the Mexican and Japanese leagues were obtained from the sources mentioned above. The minor league multipliers were obtained here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

CPBL Pseudo-Park Factors 2013

Thanks to Madboy for calculating the "Fake Park Factors" for the CPBL (Taiwan's professional baseball league) from 2004-11. The tongue-in-cheek name stems from that most CPBL teams lack a stadium in which they play all their home games. Using the same methodology, I derived the raw PFs for 2012-13. Since PFs require a three-year average, two if it's the most recent year, only the 2013 figures are for the moment. Madboy's disk crashed, so he is not able to give me the raw figures from 2011. I think it may be possible for me to derive more park-centric PFs in the future.

Team Pitching PF Batting PF
Brothers Elephants 0.987 0.995
Uni 7-Eleven Lions 1.021 0.982
Lamigo Monkeys 1.036 1.032
EDA Rhinos 0.991 0.978

2012 Lamigo Monkeys Batting PF 1.019 Pitching PF 1.021

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mormonthink Responds

In response to my objection that the impossibility of a literal Adam and Eve disprove LDS claims, Mormonthink stated the following:

We appreciate this response to the critics' issues regarding Adam & Eve and welcome the dialogue between critic and believer. However, we take issue with the charge that MT's critics 'cherry-picked' quotes from General Authorities supporting a literal Adam & Eve. We have been unable to find any quotes from General Authorities or LDS scriptures that suggest that the story of Adam & Eve should not be taken literally.

Thanks to MT for their response. The "cherrypicking" I was talking about is about LDS statements on evolution. MT chose General Authority quotes most antagonistic towards evolution, ignoring statements more friendly. I already responded to MT in the comments in the previous posts. And it looks like FAIR has already planned a full-fledged response to each issue MT raises. Below I will just mention issues that I do not think FAIR will address, mostly regarding the curious manner in which MT presents its evidence.
  1. MT is unsuccessful in demonstrating how Adam and Eve could not have existed. They claim that the truth of evolution and our relatedness to apes shows that Adam and Eve were mythical. It does no such thing, since Adam and Eve could have been the first homosapiens at some cutoff. What they should have done is point to evidence from the genome showing that the human population has never been under 10,000.
  2. When arguing for the validity of evolution, they miss clearly the strongest argument for evolution - that is, that human chromosome 2 is a fusion of chimp chromosome 2a and 2b. They put it in a link but do not discuss it. The genomic evidence they do cite - interrelatedness of species, pseudogenes - are not as compelling. The interrelatedness of species is merely a correlation; with chromosomal fusion, we have a causal mechanism. Pseudogenes are not really "pseudo" because uses were found for the genes previously thought to be junk.
  3. This is something MT put in the comments to my previous post:
    "evolution is the official explanation for human origins taught at LDS institutions of higher learning" But this is not the official LDS Church position. If you can document otherwise, we will be happy to add it.
    I concur with MT here, which is why I am curious as to why they posted the Ensign article by Donald Parry asserting the literalness of the Flood and talk about how Church-approved the Ensign is. Ensign is not official church doctrine either. And Parry is a Bible scholar, not a scientist. He was my Old Testament professor at BYU, and I can tell you that he does not believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch, as MT claims the LDS Church teaches. It would be more proper if MT quoted Parry on their section on Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch than in a science-related topic.
  4. Again, what MT said in the comments:
    If not, then there is nothing authoritative for MT to add, because if we were to do so, we would be called out for "trusting in the arm of flesh".
    If they really are scared of being challenged for "trusting in the arm of the flesh," why are they posting all this secular knowledge?
It is clearly MT's agenda to demonstrate conflict between LDS teachings and the data, with science education serving only as fodder, as is evidenced by the haphazard manner they present the evidence for evolution and against Adam and Eve.

UPDATE: I just found this article in the Deseret News.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our Secular Critics and the Adam and Eve Myth

The people over at the Orwellian "Mormonthink," in their section, "Conflicts with Science," paint the picture that because Mormonism depends on founding Biblical myths like Adam and Eve, the Flood, and Babel, the scientific impossibility of these myths disprove Mormonism. "Mormonthink" actually stifles the thought of its readers by oversimplifying the issue.

I won't offer a full-blown correction of all their errors. Nevermind that Mormonthink's (henceforth MT's) representation of the LDS Church's stance on evolution is woefully and misleadingly incomplete (cherrypicking Church statements, ignoring that evolution is the official explanation for human origins taught at LDS institutions of higher learning). MT's argument with regards to Adam and Eve and the Church is fallacious. Their first error is making a roundabout, convoluted argument that because evolution happened, Adam and Eve could not have existed, because people are related to apes, etc. If I were arguing their case, all I have to do is cite the genomic evidence showing that not all humans descended from a primal couple! They can thank me later for improving the sophistication and succinctness of their argument.

I also won't go into the myriad of ways that Adam and Eve can be interpreted allegorically within the LDS tradition (For one, MT must have missed strong cues in the temple ceremony). What I will do is introduce a better test if facts regarding Adam and Eve can sink the Mormon case. If the myth was formulated at a very late date, i.e., after Lehi allegedly left Jerusalem, then Mormonism would be false, because the Adam and Eve tradition would be anachronistic. But the Book of Mormon does not require Adam and Eve to be real. It only requires that the tradition predates the Babylonian exile.

I have considered the possibility that Israelites formulated the Fall tradition in exile as a way to allegorize their expulsion from the Promised Land. The myth also may have been due to Zoroastrian influence during the exile. Zoroastrian myths hold all humans descending from a primal couple, when all other Ancient Near Eastern creation accounts like the Enuma Elish do not.

However, there is evidence that Adam and Eve account in Gen. 2-3 was written during the Assyrian exile, which started in 722 B.C., well before Lehi left Jerusalem (See Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Eden Narrative [Eisenbrauns, 2007]) . So the Adam and Eve story could have been available on the Brass Plates.

Just because George Washington existed does not require that he literally chopped down the cherry tree. Myths can be joined with history, and that is one among many things MT blatantly ignores.