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Baseball Told the Right WayIn-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!
This article is not about steroids.
Enough about steroids already. For those of you who, like me, are sick of the steroids talk and want some real baseball content, I have to suggest a bit of baseball research that has been going on over at a place I haunt, Baseball Primer.
This is the reason why I spend a lot of time over there, because of this type of discussion that basically gets spawned out of idle talk. Little suggestion to all you out there: when you accept that there are smarter people than you out there, go and find those people. And if you like baseball, and the research that surrounds it (trying futilely to explain an unexplainable game), Primer is a good place to be.
It started with a thread dedicated to a study done at Sabernomics.com (December 3rd post) about the effect of Leo Mazzone on pitchers. Now, Mazzone is highly respected, but how good? JCS (another Primer poster) tells us,
So, what's the veridict? Leo Mazzone is a damn good coach! Working with Leo is shaves off between .55 and .85 points of a pitcher's ERA. And I promise you, the results are not some artifact of some manipulation of the numbers to prove a point. In fact, my bias when I started this project was that Leo was a bit overrated.Now that statement struck a chord with me, because for the few that remember it, I took a look at the effect of Leo Mazzone a while back. What got my attention was that JCS started with the same the same goal, he wanted to prove that Mazzone was, in fact, overrated as a pitching coach.
I wanted to do the same, but like JCS, I failed. In Building a house out of three 2 x 4's and a bunch of straw, I took a look at Mazzone's effect on pitchers. Read it if you want, but the main conclusion I came to is that, very roughly, Leo Mazzone improved pitchers by 26%, lowering their ERA from on average 4.34 to 3.45. Now, my study was a hell of a lot rougher than JCS's, but I figure that after adjusting for park, the numbers would be pretty similar.
So I think we're on to something here. On the Primer thread, a discussion popped up about the relative effects of pitching coaches, managers, GMs, etc. It includes JCS, an appearance by Rob Neyer, some research by MGL (more of a celebrity in my book than Neyer), and most impressively, some excellent work by dks, another Primer poster.
dks is running many analyses similar to what I did with Mazzone, only much much better. They are still ongoing, so I don't want to come to any conclusions that will remain in print long after they're proven false, but it looks like Mazzone is the Babe Ruth of pitching coaches. The primitive study by me is backed up by three much better studies by JCS, dks, and MGL. Leo Mazzone is damn damn good.
dks is even separating the effects of Mazzone from Schuerholz and Bobby Cox, finding both Schuerholz and Cox to have NO EFFECT on pitchers. So its all Mazzone, or more probable, all three together combine to make the dream factory for ressurecting pitchers careers.
Leo Mazzone is damn, damn good, and I encourage everybody to check out the discussion in this thread. But I have to say that the only logical conclusion one can draw from all this is:
Leo Mazzone is on steroids!