"Plausibility Index" & The Allegory of the Window

Our Spectometer stat to measure "Production"

This may be a very lame way of explaining what I'm getting at, or not. But I do realize now I should have found a picture of an open window.

Anyway ... imagine if you will ...

There is a little cannon, like the ones they use for practicing tennis or shooting hot dogs into the bleachers, and it shoots beanbags at the side of a house with a window.  (We wouldn't want to damage the house, so we use beanbags.)  The window is open, but the size of the opening is fixed.  The cannon has bad aim, and moves up and down and back and forth in a totally random manner.  For purposes of our thought experiment, the aim and randomness of the cannon cannot be changed, either.  The beanbags are fed into the cannon from a hopper.

But ... some percentage of the beanbags make it through the window and into the house.

Every minor league hitter will have beanbags fired at the window on his behalf, and every minor league hitter will have a "Goal" of obtaining a given number of beanbags inside the house.

At the outset, with each minor league hitter getting an identical hopper-full of beanbags (that is, plate appearances), it is equally plausible for each hitter to reach the Goal.  Some will and some won't, but that will be determined by the randomness of the cannon shots.  At the outset, no one hitter is more plausible than any other.

But then we change the ground rules in two steps.

First, each hitter takes a certain number of beanbags out of his hopper, and places them directly in the house.  These are walks, home runs and balls hit with authority (defined for measurement purposes as doubles + triples).  In other words, a number of beanbags equal to XBH + BB comes out of the hopper and into the house.  No cannon shot needed.  Each hitter will be that much closer to the Goal, in an amount equal to the number of XBH + BB.

Second, each hitter takes a certain number of beanbags out of his hopper, and throws them in the dumpster.  These are strikeouts.  These beanbags never get into the house, and can't be used to reach the Goal.

After these two events, the plausibility of each hitter reaching the Goal will be different.  Some will be very close to the Goal, and some won't.  Some will have reduced their chances by removing a load of beanbags from their hopper.  Hitters with similar-looking stats, might have very different plausibility because of very different strikeout rates.

After the two events, we've narrowed down our cannon shots to two of the six "plate outcomes."  Walks, home runs and balls hit with authority go right in the house; strikeouts go right in the dumpster.  The only "beanbags" left in the "hopper" represent "random-y" singles and "random-y" ball-in-play outs.

And ... we can calculate the conversion rate that each hitter needs to reach the Goal.  That is, once we know how many beanbags are in the house, how many are in the dumpster, and how many are left in the hopper, we can calculate the percentage of beanbags that need to make it through the window in order to reach the Goal.

That is what the stat Plausibility Index is.  The "Goal" is defined as an OPS of .890, which is the OPS that you get when you combine the threshold numbers that almost all successful major league hitters showed in the minors. 

Then:

  • given this hitter's actual rate of walks, home runs and extra-base hits [beanbags placed directly in the house], and
  • given this hitter's actual strikeout rate [beanbags placed in the dumpster] ...
  • what is the conversion rate of "random-y" singles [beanbags making it through the window] per "non-authoritative balls in play" [cannon shots out of the hopper] ...
  • necessary to produce an OPS of .890 [the Goal]?

A very low Plausibility Index indicates that the hitter needs very few "random-y singles" to reach .890.  The lowest for the Mariner system in 2012 was Mike Zunino's .112.  For guys who played the full season, it was Leon Landry at .242.  Once you get much over .350, then the likelihood of a hitter's actual success becomes less plausible (e.g., Jabari Blash at .373 and Ramon Morla at .355, despite decent-looking "regular" stats).

And, once we've set down that baseline, then we can consider that maybe some guys can "improve the aim of the cannon" or "expand the size of the window" (e.g., through speed).  But, when we do, we need to recognize that it is something other than producing by hitting the ball with authority, drawing walks and avoiding strikeouts.

 

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KingCorranAnd by 2014, I mean 2016. *headdesk*10 min 49 sec ago
moethedogIf we get Smith (w/o giving up something young and sweet), the Smith/Ruggiano pairing is as good as bet as Melky would be at less than 1/2 the cost. And with Melky we still needed to grab the 2nd CF. This is the type of early complementary move the Giants usually make.14 min ago
KingCorranI like that this doesn't block us from the 2014 OF FA market. If this is a chess match and we're thinking 4 moves ahead, there's a lot to be said for preserving flexibility for a no-prospect-cost move next offseason.28 min 29 sec ago
Gordon GrossYep, Ruggiano cost us a fungible asset. I would have preferred a different reliever, but really: we can find relievers. We probably just drafted 2 more while I was typing this.29 min 10 sec ago
TaroAckley probably needs to be platooned so you can still acquire either handed OF. We'll see, but I'm not holding my breath on an impact add.34 min 30 sec ago
moethedogThat's a good description, Gordon. I would prefer Souza...but this guy comes essentially free. Brazis is certainly a promising MiLB relief arm, but we hove those guys in spades. Ruggiano is the classic 4th OF as he can play all three positions and he's got a nice .266-.329-.508 career split vL. He does K, certainly. He is a potential nice addition. Does this mean Miller is no longer a SS? Or at least not the primary one and Taylor gets the ball? With Seth Smith then we would have a neat 25-man. Bloomie would be gone...In that situation I would give Romero the nod over Montero as BU 1B just because he's way more flexable. Right now it would be Ackley-Jackson-Ruggiano-Miller-Taylor-Seager-Cano-Morrison-Zunino-Sucre-Cruz. That's 11. We need one more guy that can play 2B/3B and a RHB 1B. One of those guys should be able to play COF, too. Then we are filled and flexable. Smith and Romero would get all that done.34 min 47 sec ago
Gordon GrossWe'll get more relievers, Spec, no doubt there. ;-) I just wanted Brazis available if we were gonna trade a major league reliever (like Medina). In fact, I would rather have traded Medina than Brazis. Now I assume the pen will stay relatively set (once we shake out the lefty thing, and find a place for Carson Smith... so maybe Medina is still in play after all).36 min 54 sec ago
Gordon GrossAnd really: Saunders + Brazis + 5 million bucks to throw at another move, or Ruggiano + Happ? It only makes sense if you have a legit platoon in RF (something that Saunders wouldn't have been happy with) AND one that will outhit Saunders.38 min 33 sec ago
SpectatorBrazis one of the unending spring-fed tap of RH relief guys that flow out of Jack&Mac's factory. Ruggiano's ISO 103 points higher vs. LHP (138 vs. 241!). But even tho he's 32, that's based on only 443 MLB PAs. So it's not carved in stone or anything. That being said, even Ruggiano's "bad" ISO (vs. RH) is an improvement over Denorfia and Endy.39 min 19 sec ago
Gordon GrossYeah, that's my worry Taro: that Ruggiano is losing his usefulness. He struck out 28% of the time against righties in 2014... AND against lefties. When you're K-ing 30% of the time against the arms you need to hit - that it is your ONLY useful skill to hit - I get worried that the end may be nigh. It may not be, and we're betting it isn't. But that better not be the last move. A Ruggiano/Jones platoon would sorta terrify me.41 min 32 sec ago
Gordon GrossSeth Smith is part 2 of that move, padna. I'll be pretty surprised if we don't now make that one.44 min 49 sec ago
TaroExtreme platoon player, history of mashing LHs, below-average defensive OF, showed some signs of decline in the 2nd half of the season. Will either be semi-useful in a platoon role or is finished due to decreasing contact. Still need a starting RF.44 min 53 sec ago
Gordon GrossThat said, if we'd traded Brazis for Souza I would have thought that was okay, so Ruggiano just needs to hit like his 2012 campaign and I'll be happy. ;-)46 min 15 sec ago
SilentpadnaThis looks like a Beane-style move to me. Ruggiano would be nice plug and play 4th OF. I'm okay with this. A low-risk, moderate reward. Am hoping there's still something more and the Divish is wrong. "Rays working a 3-4 team deal" makes me wonder....48 min 16 sec ago
Gordon GrossIMO, Matt Brazis was the best reliever we had left in our minors, and I had him ranked over Yarbrough. He was the next Dominic Leone and I expected him to "surprise" and make the pen in Spring Training (or at least be the first guy up). Cubs got a good one, IMO, in the vein of stealing Lord Farquhar. Hope Ruggiano can hit better than Denorfia.51 min 6 sec ago
okdanI'm just happy that it's not Viciedo.52 min 3 sec ago
Gordon GrossMATT BRAZIS??? ARGH!! I WILL USE MORE PUNCTUATION!!54 min 10 sec ago
DaddyOAh the lot of the baseball fan. Wondering all night what trade was going down, only to find out it's Justin ^&*(% Ruggiano (with a tone similar to that of Tommy Lasorda in his famous Kurt Bevacqua rant). I'm sure Ruggiano is serviceable, though I don't really know.54 min 44 sec ago
Gordon GrossYeah, I would now expect Seth Smith. A Smith/Ruggiano RF would be a .835 vs lefties / .840 vs RHP platoon for about 10 million bucks. It leaves room for the minors guys to step into an OF role while giving us guys who are used to platooning and pretty good at it to pin down the position. As long as we add a Smith-like bat, I'll be okay with that. Unless the early age curve hits either guy, in which case I'll cry into my cornflakes - and await Kivlehan (assuming he hasn't been traded for either dude... which would be pretty bad...)54 min 57 sec ago