The welcome sign at the northern entrance to Hoboken reminds visitors that the first organized modern baseball game took place at Elysian Field in June, 1846.
Now, Mike Podhorzer – a Hoboken resident, baseball prognosticator and self-proclaimed “numbers guy” – is providing baseball-lovers a new perspective on the sport.
In late February, Podhorzer made his television debut on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” (www.projectingx.com). He writes for fantasy sports blog FanGraphs, and last year was named the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year.
Now, the 33-year-old’s new e-book, Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, is available. He says it can determine how your favorite sluggers will do in the new season.
“If you enjoy baseball, then this will give you a completely new perspective and appreciation for the game because you’ll understand how players reach their stats and how they interact with each other,” said Podhorzer, who studied finance at the University of Maryland.
The local author, who will make eight years in the mile-square city this July, published his follow-up to the 2013 first edition in January.
The e-book, designed for use on a tablet or computer, gives readers an insight on forecasting baseball player performance using advanced metrics that factor in park conditions, any given player’s style and track record. The book provides a step-by-step tutorial on how to develop a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to help you create your own personal player-projection calculator.
Is the book for people into math, or those into baseball?
“Both…because it gives you a new perspective on baseball and offers new ways to look at statistics that you never knew before,” said Podhorzer, who was born in Manalapan.
Podhorzer’s book is also designed to give fantasy leaguers an edge.
For those not privy to fantasy baseball, participants manage imaginary rosters of baseball players and gain points on the player’s real-life statistics. “Fantasy coaches” tend to give their teams silly pun-filled names such as 50 Shades of Sonny Grey, 99 problems but a Pitch Ain’t One, and Citizen Cain.
“There are a few broadcasters that actually appreciate, understand, and are really into using advanced metrics in broadcast…they usually stick to traditional metrics like batting average, RBI’s and homeruns,” Podhorzer said. “But that’s mostly because they know their audience.
“After reading the book, you’ll probably get mad at the broadcasters,” he says, laughing.
Podhorzer, who began projecting baseball when he was 18, admits that his own skills are limited.
“But I still love the sport,” he said. “You have to, to write this much about it.”
When “flipping through games” at home, he doesn’t have so much a problem when he sees player’s stat boxes on television; it’s what he doesn’t see that bothers him.
“Sometimes there’s no context,” he said. “This guy does this well facing a lefty versus a righty. But they don’t give the number of at-bats. It makes it very deceiving. And that’s not even a stats guy versus a traditionalist; that’s just common sense.”
Swing ‘batta batta’
Since he began writing about baseball, Podhorzer admits that he doesn’t follow one team in particular. The players become more like variables, with some batters and pitchers particularly interesting to follow.
“A good one from the hitter’s side, not a lot of people know of him, is Aaron Hill. He was recently traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s up and down season to season. Those type of players are very difficult to project because you see two sides and not sure which you’ll see a given year,” he said.
The local author says park conditions also play a major factor, such as Wrigley Field in Chicago, where the wind can determine a game’s pace.
As for whether he could have predicted Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson, Podhorzer says that today, baseball stats are much more in depth than during the sport’s early days. Therefore it’s not possible to analyze such renowned players. New technology has also revolutionized the world of statistics, which has led to the ability to analyze aspects like pitcher’s spin rates and exit velocity.
Today, new tech systems allows for projections to reach up to 75 percent accuracy.
But Podhorzer says that projecting performance will never be perfect. So no, he can’t tell you who will win the World Series next year. You’ll have to stay tuned.
Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance is only available for smart devices.
For details and to buy the book visit www.ProjectingX.com.
Steven Rodas can be reached at email@example.com.