Sports Info Solutions Baseball Podcast

Diving Into Defense with Nick Ahmed

An episode of Sports Info Solutions Baseball Podcast

By Sports Info Solutions
The R&D team at Sports Info Solutions is joined by special guests to discuss notable topics related to baseball analytics. Hosted by Mark Simon.
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Austin Hedges on Pitch-framing, Robot Umps
On this episode of the Sports Info Solutions baseball podcast, senior research analyst Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) begins the show by praising those who played extraordinary defense for sub-.500 teams this season. (0:57) Mark is then joined by Padres catcher Austin Hedges, who rates as the No. 1 pitch-framer in baseball. Hedges talks about the value of pitch-framing and explains where he learned to frame so well (2:27). He then explains the drills he uses to improve (4:54), how he gets low pitches called strikes and what it’s like to catch Craig Stammen’s heavy sinker and Chris Paddack’s fastball (5:56). Hedges also talks about his relationship with umpires and why he strongly supports the human element of an umpire rather than the potential robot umpires of the future (8:00) and which catchers he watches most closely (12:17). Mark is then joined by research associate Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne). They discuss the Hedges interview (15:24), go through the leaderboards for Strike Zone Runs Saved, HR robberies, and Hard-Hit Rates (17:32), answer listener questions on pickoffs and the Mets defense behind Jacob deGrom (21:56) and Andrew gives job-hunting tips to aspiring research analysts (23:23). The show closes with ridiculous numbers about defensive support, the tie-in of Khris and Chris Davis, the leader in bunt hits this season, as well as a final pick of their favorite underappreciated players (27:26).
32:43
September 18, 2019
Diving Into Defense with Nick Ahmed
On this episode of the SIS Baseball Podcast, senior research analyst Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) opens the show by praising the Cardinals infield’s defensive excellence (0:52) and is then joined by Arizona Diamondbacks Gold Glove-winning shortstop Nick Ahmed (@NickAhmed13). Ahmed talks about the kinds of things he has improved upon from one year to the next (2:04), the challenge of turning double plays in shifts (3:15), what goes into making a diving play (6:20), changing positioning based on which pitcher is on the mound (7:25), the most underrated Diamondbacks defender (9:20), his impressions of defensive metrics (11:33) and advice he would give to those who want to play defense like him (13:12). Mark is also joined by senior research analyst Alex Vigderman (@VigManOnCampus). They discuss some of Ahmed’s observations (15:07), salute Javier Baez as the top defender in August (17:25), run through a list of the Defensive Runs Saved leaders in the minor leagues (18:51) and talk about an unusual defensive alignment against Eric Hosmer (21:47). Alex also gives tips on job hunting in the baseball analytics world (23:51). Lastly, the show closes with ridiculous numbers on Minor League Runs Saved leaders of the past (a predictive stat!) and low pitcher BABIP (29:09). Tune in!
34:07
September 4, 2019
A Talk With One of The Best Defensive Players in the Minors
On this episode, Sports Info Solutions senior research analyst Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) details the story of the success of Yankees outfielder Mike Tauchman, who has had an unexpectedly impressive season in the field (0:59). Mark is also joined by minor league third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes (@KeBryanHayes), who is ranked among the top infield prospects in the minor leagues. Ke’Bryan explains where he learned to play defense (3:15), the challenge of not taking a hitting slump into the field (8:03), how minor league teams provide scouting information on where players should position themselves (9:19) and the famous catches made by his father, former major league third baseman Charlie Hayes (12:24). Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) of FanGraphs.com adds a brief scouting report on Hayes (15:29). Mark then welcomes senior research analyst Alex Vigderman (@VigManOnCampus) and Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne), who share what they learned from the Saberseminar Conference in Boston. They share information about a biomechanic study at Wake Forest university (17:54), women working in MLB front offices (19:40), how the Red Sox hitting coaches work with their hitters (20:30), re-imagining the strike zone (22:02), C-Flap helmets (23:29), and the importance of outfielder jumps (24:16). The three then answer listener mail on umpires (25:44), stats to measure pitch effectiveness (27:41), and the best stats for predicting “Beat the Streak” success (30:34) and try to stump listeners with Ridiculous Numbers of the Day trivia (32:44). 
37:37
August 20, 2019
Kevin Pillar on Making Difficult Catches
This week’s episode of the SIS Baseball Podcast highlights defensive excellence in the Bay Area. Senior research analyst Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) points out how well Chad Pinder has played recently, with help from Oakland Athletics coach Ryan Christenson (1:04).  Then, Mark talks to San Francisco Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar (@KPILLAR4). They discuss the challenges of making sliding, diving, and jumping catches including dealing with injuries (3:00), how Pillar learned to play that way (5:13), what being the leader in those kinds of catches says about a player (10:00), learning a ballpark (11:02), how much he uses scouting information (13:24), and what advice he would give to kids who want to play defense like him (15:19). Mark is then joined by research associate Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne) and intern Jon Becker (@jonbecker_). They review Pillar’s comments (18:29), discuss a pitcher who changed approach upon joining a new team (20:56), answer a listener question about the Mount Rushmore of stats (22:45), preview Andrew’s presentation at Saberseminar (24:07) and challenge listeners to figure out the Ridiculous Stats of the Day (25:21).
29:10
August 5, 2019
MLB Legend Kirk Gibson and Brooks Baseball's Dan Brooks
In this episode of the Sports Info Solutions podcast, senior research analyst Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) recounts the Indians recent success (1:22), then talks to Tigers broadcaster & special assistant Kirk Gibson (@23KGibby) about what stats he’d like to see related to mentally getting through a season (3:30), teaching hitters proper swing techniques (8:34), what interests him about analytics (19:19), and the work he’s doing to raise awareness for Parkinson’s Disease (20:15). Mark is also joined by Dan Brooks (@brooksbaseball), who co-runs the annual Saberseminar (Sabermetrics Scouting and the Science of Baseball) at Boston University. Dan recounts the history and past highlights (22:28), discusses the impact the conference has (especially on students) (25:48), and what to expect at this year’s event which raises money for the Angioma Alliance (28:40). Mark and SIS research associate Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne) review research on how often balls hit up the middle result in a baserunner (34:15) and which hitters are best at getting in and succeeding in hitters counts (35:56). They also answer listener questions on how Hall of Fame analysis has changed (38:07), which past trade-deadline acquisition was of greatest analytic value (39:47), which analytics would be best used when a batter comes to the plate from former major-leaguer Doug Glanville (@dougglanville) (41:39) and which metrics teams are looking for that they don’t already have (43:46). Mark and Andrew close by picking a player to watch (46:12) and share their Ridiculous Numbers of the Day (47:23). If you have feedback on the program, please send it to mark@sportsinfosolutions.com.
50:00
July 23, 2019
SIS Founder John Dewan & The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh
On the SIS Baseball Podcast, Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays), senior research analyst for Sports Info Solutions, shows us how baseball analytics are cool, interesting, and fun. SIS develops analytics and provides them to MLB teams, media, and fantasy baseball outlets. On the podcast, we’ll give you a peek into our world, talk to important people around the industry about analytic storylines, and share what we find to be cool, interesting and fun. In this episode, Mark begins with an interview of the founder of Sports Info Solutions, John Dewan (@FieldingBible), where they discuss everything from the history of baseball analytics to advice on how to create new stats today. Then, Mark is joined by writer/podcaster Ben Lindbergh (@BenLindbergh), whose new book The MVP Machine explores the forward-thinking use of analytics in player development. Finally, Mark sits down with Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne) to go around the horn on the midseason advanced stat leaderboards. John Dewan is the founder of both STATS and Sports Info Solutions. Along with Bill James, he has played a major role in the baseball analytics revolution. John is the inventor of Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and he is the author of The Fielding Bible. For the most in-depth defensive analytics, including leaderboards and player pages, check out the recently relaunched FieldingBible.com. Ben Lindbergh is the author (along with Travis Sawchik) of The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players. He currently writes for The Ringer (@ringer) after previous stints with Baseball Prospectus, Five Thirty Eight, and Grantland. He is also the cohost of the FanGraphs baseball podcast “Effectively Wild” (@EWPod). This episode is brought to you by SISbets.com, the website that can help you beat the Prop Betting odds. Click here to create a free SISbets.com trial account.
57:16
July 11, 2019
Mike Ferrin wants to be Byron Buxton
In this episode of the SIS Baseball Podcast, Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) begins by marveling at Zack Greinke’s defense (1:05). Mark then talks to MLB Radio and Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Mike Ferrin (@Mike_Ferrin). Mike makes his case for the best team in baseball (3:25) and discusses how much organizations value defense in this era (4:51). He also makes his pick on which defensive player he’d most like to be (11:15) and who’s the best defensive shortstop in the NL (15:35). Mike then comes up with a stat he’d like the BIS crew to work on (19:43).  Mark is then joined by Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne) and the two discuss Matt Carpenter, Jeff McNeil and the shift (24:24), how much outfielders benefit from changing positions (26:58), which players should have made the All-Defense All-Star team (29:58), and which defensive player they would most like to be (33:17). They then answer a listener question about which players have made the most different kinds of Good Plays (35:01) and try to stump each other with the Ridiculous Stats of the Day (36:42). Tune in, and please rate and review if you listen.
40:44
June 24, 2019
What Does Moneyball Look Like in 2019?
In this episode, Sports Info Solutions senior analyst Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) is joined by three baseball writers – Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) of the San Francisco Chronicle, Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) of the Tampa Bay Times and Dan Hayes (@DanHayesMLB) of The Athletic. Slusser talks about how the Athletics are struggling to match the success of last season, particularly in relief pitching. Topkin discusses how the Rays operate in lock-step, from ownership down. Hayes explains how the Twins found untapped power both from their bats and their arms. Each also shares how the teams they cover find talent on the margins and how much they value defense. Mark is also joined by research associate Andrew Kyne, who explains the methodology and shares the results from his study on which teams position their infield best. Mark and Andrew answer listener mail, share who’s getting the best and worst results when they hit the ball hard and close the show with some Ridiculous Stat of the Day trivia. Tune in and play along!
42:50
June 11, 2019
JT Realmuto, Joe Sheehan, & Andrew Kyne
On the SIS Baseball Podcast, Mark Simon, senior research analyst for Sports Info Solutions, shows us how baseball analytics are cool, interesting, and fun. SIS develops analytics and provides them to MLB teams, media, and fantasy baseball outlets. On the podcast, we’ll give you a peek into our world, talk to important people around the industry about analytic storylines, and share what we find to be cool, interesting and fun. In this episode, Mark breaks down the defensive performance of Phillies catcher JT Realmuto, interviews baseball writer extraordinaire Joe Sheehan, and sits down with Andrew Kyne to construct the perfect five-tool player. Joe Sheehan was one of the founders of Baseball Prospectus in the mid-1990s and an editor of the Baseball Prospectus Annual. Now he writes regularly for many entities, including Sports Illustrated. He also writes his own baseball newsletter, which you can preview and purchase at JoeSheehan.com.
33:04
May 29, 2019
David Cone Talks Analytics
On this podcast, SIS senior research analyst Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) talks about Cody Bellinger’s great defensive season (1:07). David Cone (@dcone36) joins the show to discuss his new book Full Count, The Education of a Pitcher (2:30). He also shares how he got into analytics (5:30), comfortability with stats like FIP and the defensive metrics (6:33), what pitchers should learn (10:50), his favorite defensive teammates (13:49), what stat he’d like to invent (16:08) and more. Mark and SIS research associate Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne) review Cone’s comments (20:11), go through the leaderboards on the stat Cone wants invented (21:53), share the latest SIS articles and research (25:34), and unveil the latest ridiculous stats on how Vlad Guerrero Jr. is being pitched (30:00) and the best arm in the SIS era (30:57).  All that and much more in the latest SIS Baseball podcast!
36:48
May 16, 2019
Mark Simon Talks the Business of Baseball with Ben Jedlovec
Sports Info Solutions Senior Research Analyst Mark Simon  (@MarkASimonSays) compares the defense of Nick Ahmed and Andrelton Simmons in his Batter Up! segment (1:07), welcomes MLB's Director of Engineering and Data Quality and former SIS president Ben Jedlovec (@BenJedlovec) to discuss his career in baseball and how new stats develop (2:56) , sits down with Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne) of SIS to asses the best and worst defensive teams in baseball (20:38) and look at the hard-hit rate leader board (26:29), takes questions from listeners (32:23), and closes with the Ridiculous Stat of the Day (36:21).
39:40
April 30, 2019
Mark Simon Talks Pitching with Tyler Kepner
Sports Info Solutions Senior Research Analyst Mark Simon  (@MarkASimonSays) is back for round two of the SIS Baseball Podcast.  This week, Mark looks at the San Diego Padres (@Padres) upgrading the  left side of their infield (0:52), welcomes New York Times national  baseball writer Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) to the show to talk pitching  and his new book (2:50), sits down with Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne) of  SIS to examine early defensive trends (17:26) and answer questions from  the listeners (23:59), and finishes with a couple "Ridiculous Numbers of  the Day" (28:04). 
30:46
April 28, 2019
Mark Simon's SIS Baseball Podcast featuring Jayson Stark
Welcome to the pilot episode of the SIS Baseball Podcast with Sports  Info Solutions Senior Research Analyst Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays).  Mark discusses his spotlight player for 2019 (0:48), welcomes The  Athletic's Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) to the show to talk about shifting  and defense (4:04) and introduces new stat developments at SIS with  research associate Andrew Kyne (@Andrew_Kyne) (12:45). 
23:02
April 28, 2019
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