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.