Sep
21

2009 Dominance Factors

By

Just before the season started I introduced you a cool new stat for minor league pitchers called Dominance Factor. Patrick Sullivan at Project Prospect developed the stat last May (then tweaked it this January) as a way to see which pitchers were really “dominating” the level they were playing at when you considered their age. It’s based on three factors, all of which the pitcher can control (to varying degrees): strikeouts, walks, and groundballs. The formula is very simple and straight forward:

Dominance Factor, DF = (K% + 0.72*GB% – BB%)+ (Age Level Standard – Actual age)*7

GB% is multiplied by 0.72 because generally speaking, 72% of groundballs turn into outs. The Age Level Standards are basically the average age at a given level, and are 20-yrs old for Low-A, 21 for High-A, 22.5 for Double-A, and 24 for Triple-A. If you want to see an example, click on the first link. The stat doesn’t have any real analysis purposes because of the assumptions used for GB% and age, so it’s best used for reference. It’s still fun to look at, though.

This year’s leader in DF was none other than RAB’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year Manny Banuelos, who checked in at 65.0 DF. That, however, doesn’t even come close to Phil Hughes‘ record of 85.98 DF with Triple-A Scranton in 2007. Mark Melancon was a close second (63.9 DF) because of his exceptional walk and groundball rates, and Zach McAllister (58.6) rounded out the top three. Andrew Brackman checks in at a disappointing 24.1 DF because he was three years old for his level and his walk rate was through the roof. You’ll see that the bottom of the leaderboard is mostly filled with journeyman and low level relievers, organizational arms like that.

The full table of Dominance Factors is huge, so it’s hidden after the jump. Players highlighted in yellow are no longer with the organization, and players highlighted in blue are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December unless added to the 40-man roster. I think I got everyone, but it’s tough to figure out when some of the international guys actually signed, so someone like Hector Noesi might actually be R5 eligible even though I didn’t highlight him. My bad if so.

All of the K, BB, and GB data come from the wonderful site First Inning, and I rounded the player’s age to whatever age they spent the majority of the year at. It’s also broken down by level, so you’ll see a DF for Pat Venditte with Low-A Charleston and then another for High-A Tampa. I could have combined them, but eh, I figured seeing them separate was more useful. I also made it a minimum of 25 IP at a level, so Ian Kennedy and his 22.2 IP at Triple-A Scranton didn’t make the cut. If you’re interested, here’s the DF’s for 2008, 2007, and 2006.

Remember to click the table for a larger view, but I don’t think you’ll have any trouble reading this one.

2009 Dominance Factors

Categories : Analysis, Minors
  • Bryan

    When are the Yanks going to take Venditte seriosly? And is it possible he sees AA sometime next year?

    • JohnnyC

      They do take him seriously. After all, they drafted him twice. But, that said, he’s still a fringe-y prospect with below-average stuff. Taking it a level at a time with him seems the prudent thing to do. He may ultimately be another AAAA guy.

    • MikeD

      He’s 23 and in A ball. If he can replicate at AA, then they’ll start to take him more seriously. Not sure why they haven’t promoted him yet, though. Nothing left to prove in A ball, but they probably see some things they want him to work on before advancing.

      He’s a good story. Remains to be seen if he’s anything more than a good story.

      • http://theenlighteneddespot.com NC Saint

        Yeah, but they have to promote him for that to happen. If someone is way too old for his level *and* blowing away the competition, he’s not being taken very seriously.

  • Accent Shallow

    This stat certainly matches my perception that there were no huge pitching performances from the farm this year.

    • Anther – Troy

      Depends on you view I guess or definition of the word huge. Banuelos 65 score would have been good for third place 2008 and 2007 and second 2006.

  • Bob Stone

    Question – Why is (Standard Age – Actual Age) multiplied times seven?

    • alex gonzalez

      it is an arbitrary number for the sake of trying to say that older players shouldnt be in the lower levels. if they are it is more likely that they will pitch better against younger competition. i dont really know for sure.

      • Bob Stone

        It’s obviously a weighting factor that penalizes older players and rewards younger players. I just wondered why it was 7 instead of 3 or 6 or 8 or any other number.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        The next step with this quality metric is to start tracking correlation of dominance factor to both reaching and succeeding in the majors.

        What level of DF tends to forecast ML success? 70 and above? What level forecasts the inability to get big league hitters out? 45 and below?

        Also, is DF the best forecaster of ML success, or does a different metric show higher correlation?

        Sullivan’s work is great, though. Quality stuff.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Whoops, not supposed to be a reply here. My bad.

        • Accent Shallow

          I’m not sure that this is what the metric is designed to do. I see it as just one catch-all number to make it easier to compare prospect performance across levels. In order to do what you’re suggesting, you’d have to have sound reasoning for the level scaling.

          (And DFs at what level? Is a 70 DF in A ball the same as a 70 DF in AAA? I doubt they have the same predictive value of future success)

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            No, I’m not saying it’s designed to be predictive, I’m saying the stat (which is good by itself) would be even better if it can be shown to have predictive value.

            Well, I imagine you’d have to look not just at one DF, but at many. As in, go back and calculate the DF’s of the pitchers in the major leagues right now and see if there’s a predictive nature to it. Are staff aces guys who showed consistent 70 DF’s across the levels of the minors on their way up, or is it more random than that? Is there a cutoff line where guys who never had DF’s above 50 at any level never made the majors? Stuff like that.

            It would have to involve a big, exhaustive study, but it may be worth it. I could see clubs like the Yankees paying someone to try and find such a stat that has highly predictive value.

      • pete

        i get really confused when you say logical things like this, ag

    • Ed

      I think it’s just a made up number that seems to work ok. It was originally 10, then revised to 7 as that seemed more accurate.

      If there was real research put into it, it wasn’t explained.

      • Bob Stone

        Thank you for the inisight. I suspected it was something like that.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      Dog years?

  • pat

    Incredible how Nova goes from given away for 25k to most likely a MLB contributor next year.

    • Rick in Boston

      I hate delving into the psychology of players, since it’s complete speculation and we have no clue, but Nova’s getting returned to the Yankees may have been the kick in the butt he needed to put it together. He’s had the stuff but never the results. So maybe something clicked.

      • pat

        Same with Tabata. He certainly looked like a train wreck in progress while still in our organization. Was he just suffering through some growing pains that would have fixed themselves or was getting traded to PIT the kick in the butt he needed? We’ll never know.

        • Rick in Boston

          I think getting away from his crazy, baby-stealing wife was what got Tabata hitting again. But really, some guys just need a change of scenery to get it together. I hope Nova keeps it up in AAA next year – some more ground balls would definitely be awesome.

          • pat

            More GB’s would be very nice. He held his own as a 22 yr old in AAA that’s not too shabby. I forget he’s that young.

            • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

              that’s what i was going to say–damn he’s young.

              hope to see him compete for meat-tray’s 11th starter spot next year…

    • Ed

      That’s what’s supposed to happen with the Rule 5 draft. Being taken in the Rule 5 draft means you’ve got talent, but your team didn’t have room for you. It’s not a bad thing.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Seeing Romulo Sanchez’s name in blue scares me.

    • Rick in Boston

      He’s got to be added to the 40-man, right? He and K-Tex are the latest in a line of bullpen arms that Cashman likes to have on the 40-man (like Jackson/Whelan this year). If they come up and pitch like crap, Cashman can spin them off for something else.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Eh, I’m not so sure.

        Remember, this is only pitchers. We’re going to have to find spots on the 40 man for not just Nova and Kroenke but also AJax and Russo. So, Whelan, Romulo, and Texeira would be the 5th, 6th, and 7th guys in some order to get protected… I don’t know if they make it.

        • Rick in Boston

          I’m going off the RAB Depth Chart here:

          Off 40-man
          Molina
          Miranda
          Towers
          Albie or Edwar (or both)
          Guzman
          Shelley
          Nady

          That gives us 8 spots.

          Onto 40-man
          AJax
          Russo
          Nova
          Kroenke*
          Romulo
          K-Tex
          Whelan
          Kontos

          I’m putting Kontos on there since there’s a chance someone grabs him in the Rule 5 and stash him on the 60-day DL. The Yankees might want to keep him around; but they could just see it as a ‘hey, have fun paying for his rehab’.

          Kroenke I’m iffy about – his BB rate was high and there are a number of guys who do the same role. Maybe if Coke is being turned back into a starter, it makes sense.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Perhaps, yeah. I guess could see it.

            Depends on what FA’s we plan on pursuing. You’re probably in agreement with me that we won’t add anybody of any great substance, but we may still keep a spot or two open for a minor addition or two, like a Justin Duchscherer or something. But yeah, we may have enough room for everyone.

          • Ed

            If someone takes Kontos and stashes him on the DL for all of next year, they’d have to keep him on the ML roster for all of 2011. I think it’s unlikely that he gets added to the 40 man or that someone takes him.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Yeah, that’s why I left Kontos out of it. DL time does not serve as an end-around to the 25-man roster requirement; they’d still have to keep Kontos on their 25-man for a full 6 months worth as soon as he’s healthy in order to keep him.

              Kontos’s injury wipes out any chance that someone snags him in the R5. He’ll make a return sometime next year (maybe) and if he looks like he’s not damaged goods, he’ll go back in the R5 draft next offseason and start the process over…

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      Is it Rumolo or Romulo?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        It’s actually Rómulo Sánchez.

        • Tom Zig

          Look at you Mr. Fancypants with your accents and stuff.

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona

          Romulo Ignacio (Oviedo) Sanchez.

          I like that name.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            Baseball Reference has him listed at 6’6″ 208 lbs. 208? That seems a tad off, seems like they have some numbers backwards.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Yup.

              He’s actually 6’6″, 802 lbs.

              • Andy In Sunny Daytona

                BTW, he owns Ryan Braun. 0-3 1K. Get some, you Hurricane bastard.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  We went from unranked to #9 in two weeks.

                  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

              • Tom Zig

                Wow you ain’t kidding

                http://tinyurl.com/l7452o

              • Tom Zig

                He takes up two roster spots

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  No matter what the rookie hazing theme is that year, he’s always Santa Claus.

  • Tom Zig

    Kei Igawa is Rule 5 Eligible?

    Someone please take him!

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Good luck with that one.

      • Tom Zig

        If someone takes him and then doesn’t want him, do we have to take him back?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          No, we could probably work out a deal for him instead, like taking back 10 bats.

          Problem is, nobody’s gonna draft him in the first place and get stuck with his contract.

          It’s easier to get out of Afghanistan than it is to get rid of Kei Igawa.

          • Tom Zig

            Dayton Moore?

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Touché.

              Maybe we can get Eric Hosmer for him, straight up.

              • Tom Zig

                We’ll put a Zack Grienke mask on him and say we discovered how to clone humans.

              • Andy In Sunny Daytona

                Red Sox take him, just to send him back right before the season starts. For $25,000, it would be worth the joke.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Heh. If I was Theo, I might do that.

  • CB

    This dominance factor is a very good example of how not to develop a metric. It’s largely ad hoc, justifies none of it’s implicit assumptions, and has no clear conceptual foundation.

    This isn’t the kind of work that a statistician or methodologist in metric construction would do. This is the kind of work one sees from a bad management consultant who has mastered the art of microsoft excel or access.

    And unfortunately, this kind of shoddy work happens far too often in the quantitative analysis of baseball.

    • pat

      What would you do to improve it?

      • CB

        You’d have to start by rigorously and explicitly defining what the “dominance” is and doing so based on validated models for the concept.

        When you are trying to measure a construct that is inherently abstract or even subjective then the conceptual foundation of that construct is the critical step in creating anything valid.

        And that’s what seems to be rarely done in baseball analytics.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Do you have any examples of well-developed metrics? Which metrics do you like and think are good with clear conceptual foundations, etc.?

      • CB

        tRA is relatively well defined conceptually and analytically. They did a very good job of relating a concept and seeing it through to creating a metric.

        Conversely, many “traditional” baseball statistics e.g. batting average, on base percentage, etc. are also well defined and constructed.

        “Earned run average” on the flip side is a traditional baseball stat that isn’t rigorously constructed because the concept of “earned” wasn’t thought through or made explicit enough (though that doesn’t make ERA useless, just limits is).

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Copy, thanks. I see what you’re getting at.

      • Jerkface

        RBI kind of owns.

        • Tom Zig

          So do wins

        • Jerkface

          I guess RBI is less of a metric, more of just a stat.

          So I have just now created xRBI, which removes any RBIs not gained in a pennant race so that we can accurately nominate the MVP. It also doubles important RBIs.

          Jeter now leads Teixeira 241 xRBI to 235

          Mauer has -10 xRBI

          xRBI owns.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Heh.

          • Tom Zig

            How many does A-rod have?

          • CB

            RBI is very clearly constructed but it’s problem is that people too often don’t acknowledge it’s limitations (or conversely throw it away as meaningless because it’s “only” a team stat… which would imply the guy up at bat isn’t part of the team).”

            “Traditionalists” have taken an RBI to conceptually represent something closer to a “run created” which it is not. Nor does it’s foundation imply that it is.

            A similar thing is starting to happen to FIP. It’s no longer representing the narrow concept that it is supposed to measure and is given import it doesn’t have.

            • TheLastClown

              Would you mind expounding on that last bit about FIP?

              Do you mean that the construction of the metric itself has somehow changed, or that the evolving uses & interpretations over-reach the original intended measurement?

              • CB

                It’s an issue of it’s evolution and related scope creep.

                Forget the metric – that’s secondary. If you go back to the fundamental underlying conceptual construct that FIP is built on that construct is an extremely narrow one.

                But FIP is now used in a much broader way in many common parlances than what the original construct is supposed to represent.

                FIP is commonly used and discussed as a counter point to EqA or wOBA, only for pitching. As such that’s why you can base pitching WAR on FIP.

                So in essense, FIP is commonly used to represent something that is much closer to what tRA is actually doing.

                Part of the problem is that the enormous implicit assumptions in the underlying model for FIP aren’t made explicit enough.

                Do you believe that a batted ball struck off of Roy Halladay has the same probability of being a base hit as a batter bat hit off of Sergio Mitre?

                FIP makes that assumption.

                • TheLastClown

                  Does tRA adjust the event probability relative to individual expectations?

                • CB

                  Somewhat but not fully. What it does is at least take into consideration the distribution of batted balls in play.

                  If there’s one unifying theme of “advanced metrics” I’d say it’s the attempt to strip away a particular type of context in order to reveal true “talent.” But there always compromises one makes in such an endeavor and often one arrives at something that is quantitatively pure but conceptually or substantively flawed.

                  So tRA assumes that a line drive hit of Roy Halladay has the same probability of being a base hit as a line drive hit off of Sergio Mitre.

                  There’s always assumptions you have to make like that when you try to take away some kind of context.

                  And that’s made worse if the models one deals with are limited ones.

  • kenthadley

    CB….you present your arguements very well, and make an interesting and convincing case….if I had an idea of what all those letters meant, I’d probably be even more impressed…..I need a degree in statistics to follow RAB today…..

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
      • kenthadley

        thanx tsjc…..these sabermetrics can throw some of us who remember watching Warren Spahn, Early Wynn, and Whitey Ford pitch…..

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          No problemo.

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  • http://theenlighteneddespot.com NC Saint

    Venditte had to go and appear on this chart twice. That guy is a living Doublemint gum commercial.

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