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Academic - LiveIamA baseball analyst and professor of sabermetrics here to answer Qs about MLB playoffs. AMA!

Sep 28th 2017 by AndyAndresBU • 8 Questions • 3739 Points

My short bio: I founded Clio (www.clio.com) 9 years ago to bring law firms to the cloud. Since then, we've grown to over 200 employees, 150,000 customers, and 74,000 law firms.

My Proof: https://twitter.com/jack_newton/status/911289650592964608

EDIT: Hey everyone, headed back to the conference to do conference things, but I'd like to thank everyone taking the time to submit questions here. I'll keep checking back and answering questions throughout the day!

Q:

Thanks for taking time to do this!

Is there any aspect of players game (hitting/fielding/ or pitching) that is currently not evaluated well by sabermetrics? Is there truly an "x" factor that some players have that sabermetrics does not account well for? if so what is it and do you think there is a way to quantify it?

A:

What was the hardest part (mental/emotional/physical) of recovering from your injury? Thanks for doing this AMA!


Q:

Years ago you gave a talk in Denver. I got an email from CLIO inviting Colorado users for a beer. About 8-10 users showed up. Just wanted to say thanks for the beer.

Guess I need a question.

How's it going, eh?

A:

This is the Holy Grail question that all team are trying to address in various degrees.

Your idea bumps into "clubhouse chemistry," and how groups in any endeavour (business, academics, etc.) perform best or better. This is a real important area of research and therefore should improve baseball performance.

But is difficult research to do, not-at-all low hanging fruit.


Q:

part (mental/emotional/physical) of recovering from your inj

Hi! Those are all parts of the journey, I would say at first it was such a sudden shift in my reality that emotionally I was a wreck, crying every day. It was also mental, because I was battling thoughts of depression. Will I ever get married? Will I depend on people forever? etc... The pain was also bad... So I can't really say what was worst, but that they were all very much a part of the journey. Thanks for the question!

A:

I remember that meetup! I think it was about five years ago? Thanks for coming out, and no problem, eh. If you ever make it to a Clio conference, I'll buy you another one. :)


Q:

Hi Andy,

What would you say is the most overrated and overused statistic we hear commonly in baseball broadcasts?

Thanks!

A:

Hey David! Since your accident has happened, what has been your favorite place to go where you have shared your story?


Q:

I love Clio, and I also really appreciate that you guys are constantly adding new features. I'm one of those users that is constantly contacting your support people and suggesting ideas that would make my life a lot easier, and I understand you have an internal "voting" system that helps to determine what new features will take the highest priority for development and implementation.

Have you considered making a short list of features (say, top 5) publicly visible? I'd love to have a sense of what I can expect next.

Also, please give me something to do e-signing. Please.

A:

Overrated stat is probably Wins for pitchers, fielding percentage for fielders, and RBI for hitters. But YMMV (old school internet-ese for Your Milage May Vary!)!


Q:

ccident has happened, what has been your favorite plac

Hmm... Probably the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville. It's my hometown, and I knew quite a few people there. It was very special.

A:

Thanks for your ongoing support, we always love hearing from our customers!

With the new Clio experience, we're trying to get away from one-off feature votes and trying to understand our customers' problems and workflows in a more holistic way—a feature-oriented view is a bit myopic.

If you'd be interested in getting on a customer interview with our product managers, let our support team know or shoot me a PM here and I'll be happy to put you in touch.

In terms of e-signing, stay tuned :)


Q:

Any advice for someone considering a transition into an analytics position? and will analytics in other sports like hockey eventually get to the point baseball is at or is this going to ultimately remain unique to baseball?

A:

Have you seen Freya Markowski again since April?


Q:

Obviously you see the legal field as a great place for technological innovation. Do you think we're going to be able to fully replace lawyers with technology one day? Contracts and other rigidly structured documents seem like something that could be negotiated between two computers once things are a little more standardized.

Yes, /u/orangejulius, I want to replace you with a bot.

A:

All major sports use analytics extensively -- but I see the largest growth in football (soccer) because there are so many professional opportunities worldwide!!


Q:

I just skyped her today!

A:

Geoff Hinton made a point that we're very close to realizing the algorithmic potential of current machine learning capabilities. When it comes to negotiating contracts, there's a level of nuance required that machines just can't provide.

We'll get to a point where we'll have easily automated tasks being done by computers, and the leading edge of consumer machine learning capabilities will get pulled into the practice of law, but you'll never be able to fully remove lawyers from the legal process.


Q:

What is the proper way to construct a lineup sabermetrically?

A:

but she was negligent, the fact they didnt press charges is disgusting IMO. she ran a red light and almost killed this guy. She got a pass because of the " lets not punish the junkies and mentally ill" bullshit.


Q:

I also would like a pair of socks.

A:

Probably projected OBP (better yet, OPS) in descending order -- but even the most optimal lineup does not get you too many extra wins. Bill James work in his Manager's Book has a great argument/analysis on this topic.


Q:

ould have had to go to inpatient or som

Hi Hexxman. Thanks for the comment. And I totally agree that she doesn't deserve to be let off the hook. My reasoning was NOT because I wanted to be soft on a junkie. My reasoning was to help her, to show her that Love and Forgiveness are real and that she could have another chance. We had her do community service.

I really don't think jail would have been a good option for someone who already felt worthless. I'm not responsible for how she turns out, but I've done what I can to help. (FYI, she has been clean for a year)

Hope this makes a little more sense.

A:

See above!


Q:

I took the the Saber 101 course a few years ago and loved it. I swear you mentioned there possibly being a follow up course. Is that still possible?

Also who is your favorite sabermetric writer

A:

Lmao, you definitely were!


Q:

Young lawyer here in small firm (12 attys) who is having difficulty convincing my older, tech-adverse partners to move from Tabs and no practice management software to Clio. How do I convince them?

A:

SABR101x will re-run Spring 2018 and be followed shortly thereafter by SABR201x!!!


Q:

ld down his horn and I apologized with a wave. There but for the

Thanks for the response! That's great. I think in the analogy it's actually better to see Danny Devito as someone who needs help and has a problem (this puts the situation outside of yourself so you can see it objectively) and hope that he finds help.

And I've run red lights before myself.

A:

I think the biggest thing is to get them excited about what's possible. Even getting one person at the firm to experience the advantages of the cloud can be powerful. Show them the mobile app. Show them how easy tracking time on it is. How easy generating a bill is. Building excitement is the most important part of building buy-in.

There is also a lot of perceived friction around the data migration process. We have now migrated thousands of legal practitioners to Clio. We can make the data transition seamless for the firm free of charge. We also make it easy to transition away from Clio if you decide it's not the right fit. Our main goal is to support legal professionals in maximizing their time and being successful.


Q:

Of the probable teams playing who is, sabremetrically, the weakest?

A:

You are amazing! I am still struggling to forgive the driver who almost ran over me and my daughter...I believe that big thing in your case was that she showed how sorry she is..I wish you all the best in your life. Keep that smile.


Q:

Hi Jack, is there anything you regret in the early days of crunching to deliver the first few iterations of Clio. Additionally, anything you remember super fondly from those days?

A:

I would say the Twins are the least likely to win the WS. But I could be wrong!


Q:

thank you, and yes. that is a different type of forgiveness. I encourage you to read through this thread, I've certainly been informed!

A:

My wife, Tonia, gave birth to our first child, Ian, the same year we launched Clio. I remember taking a customer call in the hospital shortly after Tonia gave birth to Ian, and realized that Clio was going to be so all-consuming that it would be a real struggle to balance being a present, engaged father to Ian while building a startup from the ground up.

I look back at that first year and it's all just one huge blur - I feel like someone hit "fast-forward" on my life, and it hasn't let up over the last nine years (and we've added two additional kids to the mix in the meantime!)

I know I missed out on some important moments of Ian's first year while working to get Clio out the door. I think this is a sacrifice a lot of entrepreneurs need to make, but I also hope that the lessons I've learned building Clio, and the positive role model I hope to become to Ian, will ultimate make me a better father to Ian than I would be had I chosen a different path.


Q:

How do you think the Astros bullpen will fare in the playoffs?

A:

Hey David,

Given how you've been injured in a bike accident, do you think there are changes to the infrastructure possible which would help prevent happening this to other people? Greetings from the land of the bikes and the red light district!


Q:

What is the best case for why I should wear Clio socks?

A:

Very well. By various metrics the Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, Angels and Dodgers have had the best bullpens in baseball (one of these things is not like the others -- hah).

So I like the Astros bullpen a lot! They will be just fine in the playoffs!


Q:

Great question: I think we should do everything in our power to fix the roads... And the light where the accident happened is actually hidden by a bridge until you're about 100 yards away. There's a light under the bridge on the side of the road as well, it's just weird though. So one thing would be to make that light more obvious.

Regardless, when there are humans involved, accidents will exist. It's our own responsibility to do our best to act in the way we want others to act: if you want safer roads, be an alert, safe driver

A:

Do you enjoy warm feet? Do you love Canadian-based legal practice management software? Clio socks find a way to combine both!


Q:

Loved Sabermetrics 101 (I was literally on a job interview yesterday where the interviewer asked about how I learned SQL, and I told him all about your class). When will the new Sabermetrics course be online?

Any career advice for people interested in sports analytics, who have taken your course? Seems there are few entry level jobs available, and it's difficult to know who we'd need to make ourselves visible to for future consideration.

A:

David, What has helped you heal and forgive? How has your daily routine changed?


Q:

You're legal trend reports are amazing and contain a lot of market data that no one else really has been able to collect. (i.e. from actual practitioners via their practice management program) Will clio ever let researchers access the raw data itself?

A:

That is sooo cool about the mention of the course in your interview -- I am very glad to hear this good news about the course. We worked hard to create a place where people could learn sports analytics -- yeah SABR101x!

As far as breaking in -- start. Just start writing, reading, letting your curiosity drive your questions, answer your questions, do something unique and interesting.

But start.

Go.

What are you waiting for? (haha!)


Q:

The forgiveness I've expereienced in my own life, and the love I've received. And my days are actually pretty similar (I go the same places) but I just do things in a different way. Put clothes on a different way, still go to the bathroom a different way, etc... Thanks for the question!

A:

We treat our customer privacy with the utmost respect. As expressed in our Terms of Service, we would never share access with a third party. With that being said, if researchers ever wanted to see something that wasn't included by default in the Legal Trends Report, we'd be happy to have a discussion around that.


Q:

What is your World Series matchup prediction?

A:

Platt!!! What are biggest hopes and goals now that you have experienced so much healing?


Q:

Dodgers v. Indians

A:

I want to tell the world that I AM NOT A VICTIM. The point being that although I was a victim of an accident, if I responded as a victim (complaining, holding resentment, just sitting and being depressed about my legs not moving) I wouldn't be where I am today. I want to encourage others to fight whatever challenges they are up against, and not see themselves as victims, even if they truly are.


Q:

Wo will win the cinn/mil game today? Please include final score

A:

Your hair is gorgeous, what conditioner do you use?


Q:

Mil wins 6-4!

A:

lol. It tends to do better the less I try to deal with it. but I've tried a bunch of different stuff, and it seems the more expensive stuff is better.


Q:

How far away do you think the Brewers are from a World Series appearance?

A:

How did you find it so easy to forgive? What is your recovery like so far?


Q:

One of my favorite former students works for the Brewers and I have been a huge fan of theirs all year -- but I think they have a 1 in 25 chance of making the playoffs.

But boy-O-boy, I am rooting for them!

A:

see my comment to @trashtvqueen above. Recovery is pretty good, I'm walking full-time, even walking unassisted in the house! Very thankful for the recovery of neural pathways in my legs.


Q:

Do you think it's the rise in advanced metrics that has had more of an impact on the home run revival or something else? We see guys retooling their swings into uppercuts, turning low power bats into 30 HR hitters. How do you see this change progressing in the next few years?

A:

Is there anything you can't do at the moment that you used to do but are working towards doing again? On a side note, I think it is both courageous and amazing that you were able to forgive so quickly such an inspiring story!


Q:

These things have cycles -- but I think this HR rate is not just explained by changing swing planes. First off, that kind of change is very hard to pull off, normally people stick with what worked to get them to the majors.

It is likely many things causing this!

A:

Thank you!

I'd love to play soccer/wakeboard/mountain bike. I need quite a bit more strength for that... But I'm working toward it! Who knows at this rate someday I might.


Q:

Which of the wild card contenders do you like to make a deep run?

A:

Hi David, I really just want to tell you what an inspiration you are! But, rules are I must ask a question... So here it is: have you done any speaking engagements talking about your accident? If so, what was it like for you? If you could do a TED talk about the power of forgiveness, would you do it? I'd love to see it! (I'm not affiliated with TED or anything remotely similar!)


Q:

DBacks to the NLCS, maybe even the WS.

But these are my guesses, YMMV.

A:

I have played shows where we show a 20 minute documentary of my story, and then I play an hour set and share more of the story. I'd LOVE to do a ted talk


Q:

Indians making it to the WS again this year?

A:

Hi David! It's great you forgave her and surely the right thing, but in the process of forgiving, there ever were tiny little moments when you felt anger and/or resentment? If yes, how can you describe them?

Hope the very best for your recovery, from Italy :)


Q:

I think so -- they have a great team!

A:

Thanks Lee, I always have directed my anger/frustration at my legs, not at the driver. Definitely moments when I wish I could have my legs back to normal. Have a functioning bladder/bowels. But I don't let them linger, and neither do the people around me☺️


Q:

Who's the most underrated player in baseball currently?

A:

who'a your favourite Canadian?


Q:

I would say Rendon on the Nats. A great, great player having a great year, pretty much under the radar.

A:

Probably biebs


Q:

What got you into sabermetrics?

A:

Hey David! You can probably guess who this is by my handle! My question is this: has the accident affected how you are physically able to play music, as in mobility?


Q:

Reading Bill James, talking about his work with my buddies on the Tufts Employee softball team (Jumbo's Peanut Surprise).

A:

ally able to play

Hey Gardner :) Ironically, I'm touring and playing more than before the accident! Just played last night in Nasvhille! Lots on the horizon as well :) So no. That said, I can't kick a bass drum pedal very hard. But I was never a good drummer ;)


Q:

Will the Rockies make the playoffs?

A:

If you don’t mind, are you religious?


Q:

95% chance, so yes, I think they will!

A:

I believe in God, and I believe it's the God of the Bible. I also think faith is a deep and difficult subject, so I don't know the details. But I believe I have first hand experienced some of God's redemption in my own life.


Q:
  1. who you got for your AL/NL MVPs?

  2. when evaluating pitchers, do you like bWAR or fWAR more?

  3. is Aaron Judge going to keep this up?

A:

Hi David, I have a hereditary muscle wasting disease. It's going to place me in a wheelchair and eventually lead to my death through heart failure or breathing collapse.

I've often thought about whether or not I would be "happy" with my life as things deteriorated. How did you find the psychological difficulty of being paralyzed?

I'm not scared of death, I'm scared of being unable to do things....


Q:

I like Votto and Trout -- they would be my choices -- but I think Altuve and Bryant will win. But it is historically close for these MVP races!

I like both bWAR and fWAR, sorry to waffle on this.

And I do not think Judge will run away with the HR race the rest of his career. But he will be a great power hitter!

A:

'm not scared of death, I'm scared of being unable to

Thank you so much for sharing, and I'm sorry about your condition. The phychological part is hard, and I have no idea how to cope with what your struggle will be, I do know that "Man's search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl has meant a lot to me. It's a book by a guy who survived the holocaust, and you should read it for sure. He says that there is a certain kind of purpose you can only find through suffering. I've latched onto that, and It's been quite rewarding.

Make sense?


Q:

What team do you think will shock everyone in the playoffs (i.e. who do you think will go much further than ppl expect & who do you think will get eliminated much earlier than ppl expect)?

A:

Are you into gaming?


Q:

DBacks are the shock team, I think.

A:

I was until I got more into music.


Q:

I've always thought the closer role was stupid. What is your opinion on it and are there any good places I can go to get stats that might show it is better to use your best reliever in high leverage situations?

Have you checked out OOTP?

A:

One more, probably stupid. Have you always been a forgiving person? Many people take small sleights against them to heart, and take a while to let them go. Have you always been able to rationalise and forgive? Or was that a conscious decision? I guess I'm asking if you're naturally hyper-empathetic, or if you learned it along the way!


Q:

I dabbled in OOTP, but never got into it.

And there is value in closers, esp the hard to measure value in "I know what my role is going to be", but the more important, "I like getting saves so I can get paid!"

Google the Red Sox experiment at the start of the 2003 season, or any other "closer by committee" articles on the interweb. And you can find various pitching stats that take leverage into account. For example, learn about WPA/LI on fangraphs -- but there are other pitching stats similar to this one.

I hope that helps

A:

Good question: honestly, maybe I've just made the right friends, or maybe it's the way I view people, but I've never been so offended that I couldn't forgive someone. I don't think anyone's done something so bad to me that was truly evil that I couldn't forgive. Closest thing would be the person who stole my laptop from the scene of the accident........ That was low.


Q:

Who is your favorite datacaster?

A:

Former Nashvillian - where is your favorite local place to perform?


Q:

Me.

A:

I JUST played City Winery two days ago! it was incredible, they feed you and make wine with your label on it :)


Q:

Serious question, even if it sounds like I'm being facetious: Do you think global warming/average temperatures have anything to do with the home run explosion of the last few years?

Maybe it's anecdotal, but baseball wisdom has always been that the "ball travels better" in warm weather, and we've had a lot of warm weather the last few years. And there's no doubt that pitchers get fatigued more quickly on hot, humid days.

Has anyone, to your knowledge, ever done a study between temperature and home run rates?

A:

Did you take and courses on or practice any sort of mindfulness exercises to come to terms with everything that had happened and everything you felt/feel?


Q:

This is a great question, and I know of no study that look at this.

So if I am wrong, I would love to hear from the reddit public of they know of any study like this.

Time to break out the old baseball and weather DB I created years ago!

A:

songwriting helps. and writing.


Q:

There's a lot of discussion about the various ways to calculate pitcher WAR (fWAR which uses FIP vs. rWAR which uses RA vs. WARP which uses DRA). What is your opinion about the different methodologies used to calculate them (assuming you have an opinion on it)? Do you have a personal preference for any one of them?

A:

Have you read about Larry Flynt? What do you think?


Q:

Great question.

I think the differences are there, and as you describe well, understanding them is important. But I fall in the camp of so what for this -- I think the precision of these WAR numbers is not as good as we would like to see, they offer guidelines of player value -- e.g., putting too much value on the difference between a 4.3 WAR player and 4.5 WAR player is probably a mistake -- these players are essentially the same.

More precision in defensive value, which some teams are doing well, will increase accuracy. This is not the case for BP, BR or fg.

A:

No i haven't!


Q:

How accurate is the movie "Moneyball"?

A:

just want to thank you for sharing your story, im battling depression and seeing posts like these make me wonder why am i actually depressed for. Thanks friend i wish you all the happiness you can acquire.since i have to ask a question, what is something you wish you did before being paralyzed but wasnt able to do?


Q:

It is an accurate for 2002, but baseball front offices do not operate that way anymore in 2017.

Loved the movie. And the book!

A:

ou did before being paraly

That's so awesome! yeah, I would love to play a soccer game. Snowboard. Wakeboard. Not have pain in my legs/back. Pee/poop normally again. But I can do lots of things!


Q:

Who did you pick to win the WS at the begining of the 2017 season?

A:

Hey, David. Been a while since I've seen you. Just wanted to say hi. How's your dog?


Q:

I had the Indians.

A:

Just wan

Hi!!! He's great :) My parents have been taking care of him.


Q:

What internal factor could stop the cubs from repeating this year?

A:

How do you process Anger?


Q:

Do not know enough internally about the Cubs to know how ready they are to repeat. I still like the Dodgers though!

A:

Don't supress it, but don't let it linger. Honestly it's been less frequent recently.


Q:

Changing my question. Based on the data leading up to the AllStar break, was there a way to predict the playoff teams and wild card teams? Could anyone have predicted Clevelands run?

A:

There are so many new stats using the STATCAST data from MLB.

Explore this site: https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/

It is awesome!


Q:

If you could pick 3 players to build a team around using only sabermetrics, who would you pick?

A:

For the next year? For the next five years? I'll assume you mean the next five years.

And can I say Trout, Trout, and Trout? (hah)

OK, how about Trout, Kershaw and Harper.


Q:

Who is more likely to get upset in the NLDS - Nationals vs Cubs or Dodgers vs Dbacks/Rockies/Brewers?

A:

I still like the Dodgers for the WS, all other teams (potential or already in) in the NL playoffs have flaws that can easily be exposed.

My underdog pick is the DBacks, I like the cut of their jib! But still a long shot against the Dodgers.

Nats v. Cubs could go either way, I am not sure either winning would be called an upset.


Q:

Does sabermetrics have ways of evaluating managers and their decisions? It seems to me like a well-designed computer program could make most managing decisions based on historical data, real-time pitch data, etc, and be as good or better than a human. Do you agree?

A:

Manager evaluation is not too popular, compared to other parts of baseball analytics, but it has been done. And just like Deep Blue finally winning at chess at the highest levels, it will take many man years writing a good program to be as good at managing as the current set of great managers in MLB.


Q:

Neil DeGrasse Tyson believes that an exceptional play from a fielder should be banked as a credit and be considered against errors by that player. Any thoughts about this being a serious measurement?

A:

Modern defensive metrics already do this kind of adjustment, so Tyson was onto something.

But I see no value is doing some adjustment like this to something like fielding percentage (errors), an archaic way to measure defensive value.


Q:

Who do you think has the best WAR calculation?

A:

Public WAR calculations are all useful, but the teams have a much richer dataset to evaluate defense, so the 30 teams have the best WAR calculator (some are better than others, but they should all theoretically be better than fg, BR, BP, or OpenWar)!

But among the publicly available ones, I like them all. And I think Dave Appelman and Sean Foreman are great and serious analysts trying to help educate the baseball public, so it is all good!


Q:

Who’s your favorite baseball team? And also, what made you decide to go into sabermetrics?

A:

My favorite team was the Mets as a kid, but I have been a fan of the Red Sox for a while now!


Q:

What's your favorite ballpark food?

And srsly, is hotdog a sammich or nah?

A:

Hotdog is a sandwich and my favorite ballpark food is chicken fingers.