Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My 2014 HOF Ballot*

*I don't have an actual HOF vote.

The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot looks like this:

There are three managers that have already been voted in by some sort of Veteran's Committee: Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, and Joe Torre. Good for them - it's pretty fuzzy trying to judge which managers deserve to be in the HOF, as far as I am concerned.

There are 17 players who
a) Received at least 5% of the vote last year
b) Received lower than the 75% they would need to get elected - nobody got elected last year
c) Have been on the ballot for less than 15 years

As such they remain on the ballot this year:

The headers are:
YoB = Years on ballot as of this year - for example, this is Fred McGriff's 5th year on the ballot.
%vote = percentage of votes received last time
HOFm = bbref's Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor score, where over 100 is a likely HOF
HOFs = bbref's Bill James Hall of Standards, where 50 is an average HOF
Yrs = years in the big leagues
WAR = career Wins Above Replacement
WAR7 = The total WAR of the best consecutive 7 year period of that player's career
JAWS = (WAR + WAR7) / 2 --> A HOF standards scale developed by Jay Jaffe which attempts to combine longevity and peak to compare a player to existing HOF standards at his position. If a player's JAWS is better than the existing mean standard, he probably belongs in the Hall.
Jpos = The average JAWS score for that player's main position (eg. first basemen = 54.0)


There are also 19 new players on the ballot. They are nominated by some HOF committee and are players that have had at least good careers that have been retired or inactive for at least 5 years. There are players here that do not have a chance of being elected, but someone has decided that they deserve to have some sort of honour of being on the ballot. Good for them - to make this list, a player was probably a solid major leaguer for at least 10 seasons, which is not a small deal.

This year is a crazy good year for new entries. While Sean Casey and JT Snow have a serious uphill battle to get into the hall, I would be more surprised if one of the players at the top of the list is NOT selected.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Wx - Lx Records: Part 2

In this post, which in retrospect I will call Part 1, I introduced the idea of using RE24 and REW to get an idea of what pitchers' "true" win-loss records should be. This is an attempt to reduce or eliminate the effect of team offence on what is deserving of a win, a loss, or a no decision, without removing the start-to-start luck experienced by the pitcher.

If a pitcher gets lucky and has a great season despite allowing an alarming number of base runners and warning track fly balls, that pitcher is deserving of wins, as they currently stand, despite the fact that you may not want that pitcher to lead your staff next year. If that same pitcher ends up with a lot of losses and no decisions because his team's offence only averages 2 runs per game- those are the kind of W-L fluctuations I am trying to see past.

One of my sharp readers commented that in the hitters post, I was comparing Wx-Lx for hitters with W-L for pitchers. Good point.

In this post I want to put some big tables of Wx-Lx for pitchers, then:
a) see if it still makes sense
b) see whose W-L records may not be as great as they seem

a) and b) are related - part of the Wx-Lx making sense is who would benefit and who would not from this alternative scoring system.

Friday, 6 September 2013

W - L for Hitters (Part 2)

In Part 1, I introduced the concept of win-loss records for hitters that are within the same range as real pitchers' win-loss records. I built many tables of single season win-loss records.

Now I will look at a few selected players' career totals, in a few different categories: no-doubt hall of fame type players (Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds); mid-level hall of fame types (Cal Ripken, Pete Rose, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor); borderline cases from the last few years (Craig Biggio, Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Kirby Puckett); and current players who I think might be interesting (Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Vernon Wells, Adrian Beltre, Adam Dunn). I will then pick a couple of comparable pitchers based on their real win-loss records.

Let's start with the all time stat-masters.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

W - L for Hitters

Baseball fans learn to understand win loss records pretty quickly. At least until they become the dreaded sabermetricians who doubt everything they ever knew about win loss records.

But, win-loss records are still a thing, and given a win loss record you probably have an 80% chance of understanding what kind of season that pitcher had. When I was a kid, Jack Morris came to play for the hometown blue jays and WON 20 GAMES. Well, he was worth 2.9 WAR that year, and his 4.04 ERA was not special. So that is a misleading example. I have already written about Cliff Lee and how much his 2012 6-9 record means.

Anyways, yesterday I decided to turn RE24, which can transform into REW, into an equivalent win loss record that depends a little less on how the pitcher's team does in individual games and a little more about how the pitcher actually, you know, pitches. I can't go into what RE24 means again, so please go read that one first.

The Win is Dead! Long Live the xWin!

I was reading Joe Posnanski's blog, as usual, when I went through this article and came across a comment by one of his Brilliant Readers, Stephanie. Which got me thinking that it's time for a blog post.

The article is about the building support which has been apparently formalized into killing the win as a statistic because it's dumb. But maybe we should still keep it, because everyone knows the win and its a very easy to understand statistic. 20-5 is a great season. 11-13 is a mediocre season. 3-12 is a bad season. Ok.

I've already been over this, but although wins and losses are certainly correlated with a good pitching season, they can be incredibly misleading. So I am proposing an alternative, a way to turn a very good and robust advanced metric into a win loss record. For now, let's call it xWins and xLosses, or Wx-Lx.

First, a look at old wins and losses.

To get a win, a starting pitcher must
- pitch at least 5 innings
- leave with his team in the lead
- his team never gives away the lead and wins the game

To get a loss, a starting pitcher must
- start the game
- leave the game with his team losing, and his team never comes back to even tie the game

Ok. That's a weird statistic, right? Relief pitcher wins are even worse. For example, you could pitch 1/3 of an inning, give up 5 runs so that your team is tied or losing, but finish the inning. Now have your team mount a comeback in the next half inning, get pulled out of the game, and pick up the WIN.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Least Valuable Sluggers (LVSs)

Home runs are a nice thing. More home runs = better player, right?

Clearly I think the answer is no, or I would not be writing this. There are other factors involved. Like every other thing that player does - defence, GIDPs, baserunning, walks, strikeouts, etc etc etc. As usual, let's turn to WAR.

Here are the 10 least valuable 50 home run seasons of all time:
 Those are all good seasons. But considering 50+ HR, not great seasons. Wha happened?

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Ted Williams and war (Not that kind of WAR)

There's a famous story about Ted Williams that goes something like this. Someone asked TW something, and he said something like "When I walk down the street, I want people to say, 'There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived' ".

Clearly, I remember that story very well. And tell it even better.

In any case. Is Ted Williams wrong? Is he not the best hitter who ever lived?

Who else is seriously in the conversation?

Friday, 19 July 2013

Triple Crowns

Since this is the Base Ball Web Log, when I say Triple Crown, I mean the baseball triple crown. And I'm going to keep it to hitters - for now. The Triple CCrown is when a hitter leads his league in HR, RBI and AVG. I think it's because that's all anyone cared about in the 1930s. You may have a different theory.

Anyways, the Triple Crown has been won 17 times, most recently last year by Miguel Cabrera. The pitching Triple Crown is less rare, and has been achieved 38 times.

Last year, during the Jocks Vs Nerds Great MVP Debate, Tom Verducci wrote that Mike Trout was actually on his way to a rarer triple crown: leading the league in runs, stolen bases and WAR. That has been done 14 times by only 8 players.

The traditional Triple Crown is tough to do because it's hard to hit for power and average. Those skills don't necessarily or usually go hand-in-hand. Defence aside, you can get a job as a .250 power hitter, and you can also get a job as a .350 slap hitter. You cannot generally get a job as a .250 slap hitter. You can definitely get a job as a .350 power hitter.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


The amazing website Baseball Reference gives a handy guideline for understanding WAR:
<0   Replacement
0-2   Substitute
2+   Starter
5+   All Star
8+   MVP

That seems pretty straightforward. Produce 8 or more WAR in a single season, and you are probably in the MVP conversation*.

*Provided you can get through the other BWAA hoops that have been put in place over the years.

WAR is composed of, well, a little bit of everything. It is an attempt to quantify a batter's contribution at the plate, in the field, and on the bases. It combines all of these things into RAR (rawr!!), Runs Above Replacement, and then converts runs into wins to get the WAR number based on how easy runs are to come by during that season. "Replacement" is a funny concept - this is a fictitious player who, theoretically, any team could pick up at any time to get 0.0 WAR in the lineup and contribute to more losses than wins. Think of a "Replacement" team as the worst teams in history - 1962 Mets (6.5 WAR batting, 3.1 WAR pitching), 2003 Tigers (8.1 WAR batting, -1.1 WAR pitching), etc. These are teams made of players that could be had off the scrap heap, or expansion draft, or whatever. Then add players' WAR to move up in the standings.

Monday, 15 July 2013


Yasiel Puig, Dodgers demigod, is finally coming back down to earth. Sort of. Since the start of July, Puig has hit *only* .300/.333/.420 in 12 games. This leaves his overall line at .391/.422/.616 in 38 games leading up to the all star break since his debut June 3 (remember the crazy throw to 1B?).

On June 2, the Dodgers were 23-32 and 8.5 games back in the NL west, already.

Today, the Dodgers are back to .500 at 47-47 and only 2.5 games back - right in the thick of things in a tight division race.

Puig has missed a single game (a 1-0 win on July 13), so LA is 23-15 with him in the lineup. That's great! Wow! Puig is the difference maker! A losing team turns into a winning team right away, and the Dodgers will keep this up and streak to the pennant!

Don't get me wrong - Puig has been spectacular to start his major league career, and more than that, he is really fun to watch, especially with those throws from right field. But there is more to the story than just Puig. Over his 38 game span with the Dodgers, it is actually debatable whether or not he has been the most productive player on his own team.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The 27th Batter

This post has been a few months in the making and dates back to that pre-web-log era.

In any case, I think it's pretty interesting so I decided to write it up anyway.

There have been 21 perfect games in MLB history, and a surprising number of them have come in the last few seasons. But, there have also been 11 near-misses: perfect games through 26 batters that have failed. The most recent, and my inspiration, was Yu Darvish's season opener this year. On April 2, Darvish mowed through the first 26 Houston Astros, striking out 14 of them. On the 27th batter, he gave up a first pitch single and lost the perfect game (Texas won 7-0).

Before that game, there had been 31 perfect game candidates, 21 of which were completed. Going into that game, the 27th batter was hitting .276/.323/.448 - not bad. After that 1/1, the 27th batter of a perfect game is currently hitting a cumulative .300/.344/.467.

Friday, 21 June 2013

New Stat

On Tuesday night, Josh Hamilton grounded into 3 double plays during a 3-2 loss to the Mariners.

In honour of that, I think its time to talk about a new stat - OPPA, or Outs Per Plate Appearance.

Even good hitters have bad nights, and bad hitters probably have more bad nights, but it takes a special confluence of opportunity and execution to create more outs than plate appearances.

To continue my apparent obsession with GIDPs, and how funny I apparently find it to be when hitters ground into multiple GIDPs, this post is all about the most-GIDP games ever. Unfortunately, triple plays are not as easily accessed, so if a batter created triple play outs I am going to ignore that for this post.

The methodology here is pretty simple:
1. Find all the batters who have GIDPed 3 or more times in a game
2. Count the number of outs they produced
3. Divide those outs by plate appearances.
4. Notice other interesting things.

That search returns 109 batters that have accumulated 3 or more GIDPs in a single game, with the first coming in 1934. So maybe every time I say "of all time" I don't really mean it.

Surprisingly, only one batter ever has GIDPed 4 times in a game. That batter is likely going into the hall of fame... as a manager. Need more clues? He goes by the name of J Torre. No wait, that's too obvious. Joe T.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Weird Numbers

I will start with a question: based on the two seasons of pitching below, who would you rather have?
If you know or care what these stats mean, you might have one of three reactions:
1. I will take the first pitcher - he gives up fewer home runs and has a better FIP
2. I will take the second pitcher - he strikes out more batters and walks fewer batters!
3. I will take both and probably make the playoffs - these guys are both aces.

By these so-called "advanced" stats, these two seasons are not that different. Now let's play that game again:
Pitcher 1: 22-3 over 223 IP in 31 starts.
Pitcher 2: 6-9 over 211 IP in 30 starts.

Now, it's a no-brainer, right? You take pitcher 1. It's not even close.

I think I'm too obvious to actually "blow your mind" here, but... pitcher 1 in the two sets of data is the same! Pitcher 2 in both sets of data is the same! Woah!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Ádám Lind

I thought I knew how to spell Adam Lind, Jays DH (who plays 1B because he's somehow better at it than Edwin Encarnacion. Pardon me. Edwin Encarnación.)

According to Yahoo!, I didn't quite have it right:

This is a joke, right?

Thursday, 23 May 2013

And now for the Worst...

I recently published a Web Log about WPA and the best WPA games. Here are a few notes about the worst WPA games.

The best WPA game for a batter was +1.503 by Art Shamsky, 1966.
The best WPA game for a pitcher was +1.675 by Vern Law, in 1955.

The wosrt WPA game for a batter was -0.820 by Juan Rivera, in 2003 for the Yankees. He managed to go 0 for 6 (with a walk!), but what sunk his performance below all others was the 3 GIDP* in a 10-9 17-inning Yankees win.

Joey Bats Wins a Game by Himself

I was unlucky enough to be working during yesterday's late-afternoon Jays/Rays matchup, but I was following by the At Bat app on my iPhone (which is great by the way). It was surprising enough to see the Jays tie it up in the ninth, let alone win it in extras. That is a rare day in Toronto. It was only after checking out just how they won that I could not help but see that Jose Bautista completely dominated this box score. Whether or not it showed in the game is another thing, but I can't imagine you could walk away with any other impression.

4/4 With 2 HR and all 4 RBIs in a 4-3 win is good enough. A look at the Fangraphs WPA for the game though, tells just how crucial Joseph Bats was to the win. I know, I'm pretty excited about this baseball game and I haven't even seen a replay yet.