• 9 Questions With Lee Sinins

    Posted by on April 2nd, 2012 · Comments (3)

    I recently had a chance to run nine questions by the mastermind behind the incredible Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, Lee Sinins. Here they are:

    Q1: Lee, it’s been a while since our last interview – one year short of a decade! What have you been up to since the last time we did something like this?

    Sinins: Sorry for not being able to come up with a more interesting answer, but really not too much. Just a whole lot of baseball watching, reading, goofing off and stuff like that.

    Q2: Hey, if you can pull that off, there’s nothing wrong with that! In the last few years, in watching all that baseball, what things or trends in the game, albeit good or bad, have stood out to you the most?

    Sinins: The best trend that always stands out is the never ending storylines that new seasons present. For example, 2012 gives us questions like can Curtis Granderson hit 41 homeruns again, who will miss out their departed first baseman more, the Cardinals or Brewers, can anyone possibly overtake the Tigers in the Central, is there any chance that I will be wrong in how much I hated the Jesus Montero trade, where will Roy Oswalt end up during the season and so on. The worst new trend won’t come as any real surprise to you. I hate the addition of another wild card.

    Q3: That’s a great point. Each season something happens that you never expected at both the team and player level. And, of course, questions are answered. What is it about the wildcard that you dislike? Related, any thoughts on the everyday interleague play that’s coming in 2013?

    Sinins: By definition, any team that wasn’t the best of a subdivision of the whole can’t then be the best of the whole. There is also the constant destruction of pennant races that occurred by abandoning the 1969-93 system. Remember the all time great race in the AL East in 2011? Remember how the 97 win Yankees just barely beat out the 96 win Tigers and the 95 win Brewers and what an even better race it could have been if the Red Sox didn’t collapse as much in September. Of course, a 3 team race pales in comparison to the 4 team race in the 2010 NL West, when only two games separated the Giants, Reds, Braves and Padres. But, of course you don’t remember that. They were among the pennant races destroyed by the wild card changes. I have no thoughts on the everyday interleague, except hopefully that will lead to the DH coming to the NL pretty soon. OK, I guess that does count as a thought.

    Q4: Would more divisions and no wildcards be a better system?

    Sinins: That would be a better system. The only drawback I see there is I think we need expansion to 16 teams per league to be able to have 4 divisions. I’m not sure whether I would support that or not. I could go either way on the expansion idea. But, the fact that it could then produce a wild card free world would be a huge selling point.

    Q5: Speaking of better systems, last year you added Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA) and Total Runs Above Average (TRAA) to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia. Can you tell us a little more about those stats and why you added them?

    Sinins: I never found a system for fielding that I had liked until I read Wizardry, which was a book that came out about a year ago. The author made a very convincing case in favor of his system. I then took the formulas that he had published and did a little bit of tinkering to them to take into account different run environments over the years and park factors. That end result was FRAA, which is the fielding edition of RCAA. Then, TRAA is RCAA + FRAA.

    Q6: I’ve heard a lot of good things about Michael Humphreys’ book. I have to get that one into my queue. Speaking of the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, how are things different for it now compared to when it was first launched so long ago? What do you see in its future? Will we ever see something like a Complete Baseball Encyclopedia app for our smart phones and iPods – or something like that – down the line?

    Sinins: I definitely recommend that book. I had given up on finding a good fielding system that I would like, but that one definitely showed me I was wrong. The Complete Baseball Encyclopedia is definitely more powerful than it was when it was first created. There are more powerful sorting features. As far as the future, I don’t know, but I assume eventually I will come up with some ideas to add even more features.

    Q7: In terms of your vision for the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, and what you wanted to accomplish with it, have you met all your goals? If yes, what were those goals? If no, what’s been the one biggest hurdle preventing that from happening?

    Sinins: The reason for me creating the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia was I loved the old Bill James Electronic Encyclopedia that was available for a few years during the mid 1990’s. Then, they stopped making it. Eventually, once I went to computer school, I decided I had to try to see if I could duplicate something like the old Bill James Electronic Encyclopedia for my own use. I more than succeeded at that. I never originally thought I would have a marketable product, but time proved me wrong there.

    Q8: The Complete Baseball Encyclopedia is a wonderful product. Thanks for making it available to the public. Now that the baseball season has started, any predictions for this year? Anything that you’re looking forward to seeing this season?

    Sinins: In the AL, I like the Yankees and Tigers in the East and Central. The West should be a great battle between the Rangers and Angels. It’s hard to pick, but I’m going to go with the Rangers. In the NL, I like the Phillies again and I am going to take the Reds in the Central. I really don’t like anybody in the West, but I guess the Giants are team to lose less than the rest of the division. The big things I’m looking forward to this year is to hopefully see Alex Rodriguez return to a star level. I’m not looking for a repeat of his glory days, but I’m hoping he has a 30+ TRAA season in him. The Tigers should be fun, with Fielder and Cabrera in the same lineup. I’m also looking forward to the continued development of Giancarlo Stanton. I remember the day that Strassburg debuted was also the day that Stanton made his debut. I wrote an email to a friend telling him that my bet is going to that Stanton has the much better career. So far, it’s been no match: Stanton, 55 TRAA, Strassburg, 15 RSAA.

    Q9: Which teams do you think are the worst in baseball this season?

    Sinins: I’ve got a few teams I’ve got my eyes on. The Astros and Cubs are going to be really lousy. The combination of not having enough talent plus their division is going to lead to a very long year for the Mets. Also, the Mariners made a move in the right direction getting Montero, but their lineup is still going to be so bad and they will have another very long season.

    That’s it. My thanks to Lee for his time in entertaining my questions. And, of course, I recommend that you get the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia. It has had many very satisfied customers over the years and has consistently been cited in places like ESPN.com and other sources and by writers like Jayson Stark, Peter Gammons and Bill James.

    Comments on 9 Questions With Lee Sinins

    1. MJ Recanati
      April 2nd, 2012 | 10:30 am

      Good stuff. Always liked Lee’s work and his contributions/comments to the site back in 2005-2008.

      Also, I agree with him re: the extra wildcard. It’s a dumb idea intended to make the Tampa Bay Rays feel better about themselves for — boo-hoo-hoo — having to depend on a shitty year from New York or Boston to make it into a playoff game.

    2. Raf
      April 2nd, 2012 | 6:59 pm

      Lee is awesome. I enjoy his work, and I still am a subscriber to his ATM reports.

      You should’ve asked when will he bring back the “stupidity award.” 😀

    3. MJ Recanati
      April 3rd, 2012 | 7:23 am

      Raf wrote:

      You should’ve asked when will he bring back the “stupidity award.”

      HAHAHAHA!

      Forgot about that one.

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