About Me

My photo

Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hall of Fame Hypocrisy: can it get much worse?

I was recently invited to vote by a bloggers group.  I voted for McGwire and Piazza.  I figured McGwire came clean and Piazza probably is clean.  The rest can wait until things get sorted out.  I'm in no rush to endorse Bagwell or Biggio.  Bonds and Clemens failed the character test before they started using.  Before being considered, a liar can wait a day for each day he lied.

1. For the writers who won't vote for McGwire: will you vote for Tony LaRussa, his manager in both Oakland and St. Louis?  How could LaRussa not have known?  Keith Oberman says that he heard in 1986 that LaRussa's steroid poster boy, Jose Canseco, was using the stuff being used by the East German swimmers.  Aren't LaRussa's accomplishments as a manager tainted if his player's accomplishments are tainted?  If a tainted player's records should be ignored, should team victories?  Shouldn't those victories be vacated and thus the championships?

2. Media people are not members of the Hall of Fame.  They get awards that make them pseudo members, "recognized in the "Scribes & Mikemen" exhibit in the Library":

J. G. Taylor Spink 1962-2012: "voted upon annually ... the award honors a baseball writer (or writers) "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing" ...presented with a certificate during Hall of Fame Weekend".

Ford C. Frick 1978-2012: "presented annually to a broadcaster for "major contributions to baseball" ... presented with a calligraphy of the award during Hall of Fame Weekend".

That's a lot of media people.  Click the links above and check out the lists.  Any chance some of the more recent honorees knew about the performance enhancing stuff while it was being used?

Do those voting them their awards know of the complicity of those media people who knew about the behavior they consider scandalous?

And do those who are currently voting awards for their peers despite those peers being part of the problem expect to receive such an award for themselves some day?  There seems to be an unending chain of complicity.

Some people blather about this hypocrisy with little more than siting the usual punching bags like Ty Cobb and Cap Anson, products of their times and circumstances, feeling superior because their sensibilities are more developed than those of 100 or 140 years ago.  Come on.  Show some imagination.

How about people already in the Hall?  I addressed this a bit in my previous post.  Here's more.  Should these people be deducted?

George Brett used an illegal bat to hit a home run.  What if that home run broke the season record, the third rail of steroid hysteria for the zealots?

In 1951 Giant manager Leo Durocher had his players systematically steal the catcher's signs.  This certainly shows poor character.  There's also Durocher's world class foul mouth used to intimidate friend and foe alike.

Gaylord Perry: a golden oldie, mentioned multiple times on this blog for admitting in the middle of his career that he violated game rules by messing with the baseball and being elected with little concern about his character flaw.

Finally, I'll repeat the issue of character of those voting.  Who vets them?  Who investigates their character?

There's a Hall of Merit if you want to vote on performance only.  I never have.  Maybe I will some day.  "Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio have been elected to the Hall of Merit!"  We can only imagine how gracious Bonds and Clemens were when they heard the news on December 12.

The baseball Hall of Fame must have some sort of cultural fascination for us.  It's in the middle of nowhere for no good reason, in a place too small for the induction, poorly equipped for the many who make the pilgrimage and stuffed with ... junk. Who the heck wants to see a ball used for some accomplishment?

It makes more sense to simply abandon the Cooperstown institution as some historical oddity and embrace a hall of merit or an ESPN concoction or pretty much anything in a large city like New York accessible via public transportation and with modern wow factors.

Geez, let's just move on and end the absurd and poorly framed arguments.  The whole Hall of Fame thing has gotten so bad that it's boring.  One more nail in baseball's coffin.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Hall of Fame: "integrity, sportsmanship, character".

That's the criteria that has media people tripping all over themselves, doing everything except what is needed: get together and define and refine "integrity, sportsmanship, character".  That's what any responsible organization would do.  However, neither the Hall of Fame, nor the voters in the writers association have shown any initiative.

On character, Bonds and Clemens could be excluded if they never used steroids, etc.  The were nasty SOB.  And they could be excluded for being liars ... about steroids.

They should have to wait one day for each day that they lied, my Pete Rose rule.  Rose needs to wait 14 years before being considered for the HoF.  Then rejected on character.  Rose was a disgrace.

And if the Hall insists on considering "integrity, sportsmanship, character" then it needs a provision to deduct people, the OJ rule.  Suppose that OJ had been a baseball player?  After most of the galaxy concluded that he murdered two people, should the BASEBALL Hall of Fame deduct him?

If yes, then what about violations of "integrity, sportsmanship, character" less than double homicide?  What about Kirby Puckett and pre induction indiscretions uncovered post induction?  Duke Snider who plead guilty to defrauding the IRS 15 years after his 1980 induction?  Same thing for 1986 inductee Willie McCovey a year later than Snider.  Has anyone called for the deduction of any of them?  What, if any, of this stuff is serious enough to consider?  Adultery?  Drunk driving?  What?

Or of Babe Ruth, who used illegal performance reducing drugs as a player?  Which is worse:
-  illegal performance reducing drugs
-  illegal performance enhancing drugs?

At least one player is trying to improve.  The other is giving less than his best.

Obviously, it's a mess and we haven't even considered the "integrity, sportsmanship, character" of the voters much less ourselves.

Mickey Mantle: super star or rent-a-star?

Mickey Mantle would have become a free agent after his sixth season, 1956 when he led the majors in triple crown stats: home runs, RBI and batting average.  That's if the old American and National Leagues had the same goofy rules that absorb our attention on hot stove programs during the off season, the ones in which trades and signings cause us to covet our neighboring team's players.

Of course, the Yankees might have preempted that by signing Mickey to a long term contract after his big 1952 season when he was third in AL MVP voting at age twenty, trailing only two pitchers.  Or maybe the Yanks had already traded Mickey after 1955 when he and Willie Mays each led their leagues in both triples and home runs, a feat matched in the modern era only by Jim Bottomley, NL 1928.  Trade Mickey Mantle a year before he could become a free agent and get prospects.  Makes your skin crawl, doesn't it?  Come on, admit it.

We didn't think in those terms then.  Many teams had a star player and that's where that player belonged.  We didn't dream or scheme about how to acquire another team's star.  Hank Aaron was a Brave.  Al Kaline was a Tiger.  That was it.  That's where they belonged.  There was a certain sense of propriety, which now seems either quaint or radical.

Why should I get worked up about a continuous flow of rent-a-player transactions, which never seem to satisfy, no matter how spectacular they may seem at the beginning?  See Alex Rodriguez.

No, I'm not supporting the old reserve clause, which bound a player to a team.  I'm all for the players making as much as they can.  If Mickey Mantle had gone free agent after his 1956 season he might have signed a huge contract.  Maybe $100,000 for each of seven seasons.  The players are the game, not the owners and, sure as heck, not the fans.  No players, no game.  The players risk life and limb for our entertainment.

Maybe we fans should encourage players to remain with their natural teams, maybe by appreciating them more and coveting replacements less.  Something is broken and needs to be fixed.  Maybe the fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Curse of the Bambino: breaking the home run record.


Maris remained bitter about the experience. Speaking at the 1980 All-Star Game, he said, "They acted as though I was doing something wrong, poisoning the record books or something. Do you know what I have to show for 61 home runs? Nothing. Exactly nothing." Despite all the controversy and criticism, Maris was awarded the 1961 Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year, and won the American League's MVP Award for the second straight year. It is said, however, that the stress of pursuing the record was so great for Maris that his hair occasionally fell out in clumps during the season. Later, Maris even surmised that it might have been better all along had he not broken the record or even threatened it at all.

Both Roger Maris and Barry Bonds were sour pusses, made more sour after breaking the season home run record, although by the time that Bonds did it, Babe Ruth had been passed five times by two more: Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

The only one who seemed to have enjoyed it was the Babe.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Park Factor: how reliable?

Sunday, May 29, 2011
Mays v. Aaron OPS on road against the other teams 1954-1968 v. OPS+

The 15 seasons 1954-1968 cover both players peaks but ends before divisions were created in 1969 when unbalanced schedules were introduced ...

OPS+ home and road against all teams 1954-1968: Mays 3.77% higher

OPS on road against the other teams: Mays .88% higher

If my method is accurate, Mays and Aaron may have been closer than OPS+ would suggest.

I was reconsidering my method for comparing two batters in the same league.  I compare their stats on the road but not in each other's parks.  The stats are in the same parks and against the same pitching staffs.  Essentially, it eliminates the need for ball park factor, which is needed because, unlike football and basketball, baseball embraces non-uniform playing areas to the cheers of all but me.

Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are remarkably close for the years analysed.  My method makes a lot of sense to me.  OPS+ (On Base Percentage plus Slugging average adjusted for park differences)  makes sense to me generally and I use it a lot even though I really don't understand how the park factor is applied.

So why are the percentage differences for Mays and Aaron so different: 3.77% v. .88%?

In this case my method has substantial sample sizes of 4,400 plate appearances for each of the two batters.

baseball-reference.com has such a difficult time explaining park factor that it resorts to quoting the entire section from an old Total Baseball document with this:


baseball-reference.com then states:

lg_OPS values are for a league average player in that ballpark for single season data, and for a league average player with the same career path as the given player. This means that two players from the same league will have different values here if they played in different parks.

Historically, B-R has been using single-year park factors for recent years and 3-year park factors historically. I have changed that to now use 3-year factors by default for all years. Of course, the current season is only really a 2-year factor. The current year and last year. This can lead to some big changes in the numbers, from what had been on the site.

Then the fun begins with the explanation borrowed from Total Baseball.

It would seem like park factor would remain constant if all the parks remained the same.  Unfortunately, a casual glance at parks suggests that as a group they are in flux especially using the three year method.

It's disconcerting that OPS+ may be less reliable than some of us had thought.  Argh!

Also of interest:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Mays over Aaron.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hank Aaron: why so much better homering at home in 1971?

Hank Aaron got a mid career boost in home run (HR) hitting at home after the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966.  However, Aaron's home HR proficiency was almost twice as good in 1971 as in any of his other eight Atlanta seasons.  Why?

Click link to see data and graph.

Aaron had his season high of 47 HR in 1971 at age 37.7 at season's end on only 495 at bats (AB).  But his HR rate was 49.6% better at home.  His three other seasons in Atlanta with a home edge over 20%:
1967 28.8%
1968 24.2%
1970 29.6%

After 1971:

In 12 seasons in Milwaukee Aaron was better at home by more than 20% twice:
1956 21.9%
1965 20.5%

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mickey Mantle: Numbers You May Not Know.

Click this link.  It goes to a document that I will update from time to time about my boyhood baseball hero Mickey Mantle.

Subjects so far:
  1. Batting right handed against a right handed pitcher
  2. Bunts
  3. Why so few doubles?
  4. Home v Road

Retrosheet: keeper of the flame or flaming out?

This is my first post in a week, since the home run (HR) proficiency post on seasons with at least 35 HR.  I think it is an important step towards understanding the relative HR achievements since the advent of modern HR hitting in 1920.  This is especially true with everyone babbling about the Hall of Fame voting on Barry Bonds, the major concern being his late career HR production after he started using steroids.  Rather than sitting like a lump and mumbling about HR totals, both season and career, I put them into some context, primarily a rate per at bat (AB) and compared to the league average minus the player's stats.

Hank Aaron's apparently comparable performance at about the same age (Aaron was actually 160 days older) to Barry Bonds is compromised by Aaron's home park advantage, extreme even for his late career boost playing in Atlanta.  I know that a park HR factor is something needed to make my HR proficiency method better.  But how?

baseball-reference.com does not seem to have the data.  Yesterday some friends suggested that I try good old trusty, rusty retrosheet.org, the granddaddy of historical baseball.

This is where I should provide the requisite blah, blah, blah accolades for a noble job well done, etc.  But I'm so appalled at the irresponsible nature of retrosheet.org that I'll go right to my concerns.

DOS.  Disk Operating System.  Retrosheet tools for working with its raw data are ancient PC programs written in the pre-Windows era, likely before 1990.  This tracks with my general theory that baseball is on its death bed, meaningful mostly to old people like me and those running Retrosheet, like founder David Smith who supposedly keeps original documents in his basement and/or garage rather than in the National Archive, Library of Congress, Iron Mountain, whatever.

I try to avoid doing my own database work.  I drag what I need/want from baseball-reference.com whenever possible and avoid the lousy interface of retrosheet.org, which I do not think has been improved since day one.  However, retrosheet.org does have some stuff that an individual cannot find elsewhere, at least not without paying for some esoteric service to access the raw data.

I use the annual data from the Lahman database and massage it in Microsoft Access, a single user Windows based database management system (DBMS), which works quite well for my purposes.  That program is the only Windows program that I still need.  I do everything else on the web with Google Drive and Google Docs.  All my spreadsheet work is done online.  I have not used Microsoft Office programs other than Access for several years.  Were it not for my occasional use of Access, I would have no need for Windows and I may get a Chromebook when the new touch screen version becomes available soon.

DOS?  Retrosheet tools are DOS programs?  Who the heck under the age of 60 is going to use them?  Rather than making baseball data available to future generations, Retrosheet officials seem intent on taking it to their graves, burying it like some ancient pharaoh entombed his treasures and supplicants in his pyramid.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Home Run Proficiency relative to League.

Babe Ruth dominates as do other batters of the 1920s and 1930s.    Ruth took spots 1 through 9, 11, 13.  Of the top 19 spots, the only one later: Hank Greenberg 1946: 4.43 time more proficient at hitting home runs (HR) than the other batters in his league that season.  Best position after Greenberg: Mike Schmidt 21 (1980).

To see the data click this link.  Criteria: HR >= 35 and (AB/HR) < 12.  That produced 116 seasons.

See this post:
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Season Home Run record 1: Bonds, McGwire, Maris, Ruth, Craveth.

In this equation each letter represents (HR/AB) for either the player or the league minus the player.  The result is the number of times the player's HR rate is better than all the other batters in that league that season.

In the data provided the column X represents the equation described above.

Ruth in 1920 was 14.5 times more  proficient at hitting HR than the other batters in his league that season.  That was number one among the 116 seasons examined.  Ruth had all three seasons in which a batter was at least ten times more proficient than his peers.

Note: Mark McGwire in 1997 played in two leagues and his data for that season needs to be adjusted.

The most HR in a season for Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron were also their best using this method of evaluation but they placed 23 and 24 respectively.  See post:

Monday, December 3, 2012
Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron: Home Runs.

Season high:
Bonds 2001 73, 476 AB; final team game 10/7/2001; age 37.2
Aaron 1971 47, 495 AB; final team game 9/28/1971; age 37.7

Aaron was 160 days older than Bonds.

The next place for either was Aaron #28: 1973, age 39.  See post:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Those 1973 Atlanta Braves: was there something in the water?

Roger Maris was number 43, 2.81 times better than the others in 1961.  Mickey Mantle's two 50 HR seasons: 36 (1956) and 40 (1961).  Willie Mays two 50 HR seasons: 33 (1965) and 84 (1955).

Mark McGwire: 20 (1998), 34 (1995), 35 (1992), 38 (1999), 47 (1996), 57 (1997), 104 (1987).

Sammy Sosa: 46 (1998), 62 (2001), 72 (1999), 81 (2002).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Babe Ruth's impact on team Home Runs.

Babe Ruth set the season home run (HR) record in 1919, 1920, 1921, 1927.  In both 1920 and 1927 Ruth hit more HR than any other team in his league.  In 1927 Ruth set the standard with 60 HR.

I created a file with team HR data from 1919 through 2011: max, min, ave, StDev.  Click this link to view the data and graphs.  Seasons in which the max or min was less than 60 are in red.

Excluding the short 1981 season:

From 1927 through 2012 teams have failed to hit at least 60 HR 116 times, most recently the St. Louis Cardinals with 58 in 1986.

1927-2012: 204 times teams have hit fewer than the current record of 73 HR set by Barry Bonds in 2001.  Most recently: LA Dodgers 72 in 1992.

1977-2012: average HR per team over 100 each season.

1996-2012: minimum HR below 100 in three times - 2008, 2009, 2011 all in the National Conference (NC).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Life of Mickey Mantle (3 Oct. 1956): review.

The New York Times, October 4, 1956 by Jack Gould (wiki: "American journalist and critic, who wrote influential commentary about television")

Mickey Mantle's Life

Mickey Mantle's life story was dramatized last night on the "Kraft Television Theatre" over Channel 4 in furtherance of the current viedo fad for highly topical drama.  The documentary was unashamedly on the sentimental side at it recounted Mickey's professional and personal ups and downs.  While the play didn't detail the pressures that go with sudden baseball fame, it did have some very effective, even touching moments.

Nicholas E. Baehr captured in the script some of the inarticulateness of Mickey when the breaks did not happen to go his way and he was puzzled by his own inner turmoil.  But chiefly it was a remarkably sensitive portrayal by James Olson that expressed the painful awkwardness that bridges adolescence and manhood.  The scene in which Mr. Olson and Loretta Leversee portrayed Mr. and Mrs. Mantle was beautifully done.

The "Kraft Television Theatre" was unquestionably wise in not attempting to do a true-to-life interpretation of Casey Stengel.  Some things are impossible.

The imdb.com link for Nicholas E. Baehr, the screen writer, shows one listing for Kraft but not the one for the Mickey Mantle program:
Kraft Theatre (TV series) 
– The Day of the Hunter (1956) (teleplay)

Same with actress Loretta Leversee:
 Kraft Theatre (TV series) 
Mrs. Altmar
– Smart Boy (1957) … Mrs. Altmar
– The Devil as a Roaring Lion (1956)
– Half the World's a Bride (1955)

James Olson, however, has for his first credit in imdb.com:
Kraft Theatre (TV series) 
– The Life of Mickey Mantle (1956)

The Life of Mickey Mantle (3 Oct. 1956)

"Kraft Television Theatre" Season 10, Episode 3

Filming Locations: New York City, New York, USA
Production Co: J. Walter Thompson Agency
National Broadcasting Company (NBC)

Technical Specs
Runtime: 60 min
Sound Mix: Mono
Color: Color
Film negative format (mm/video inches) Live
Aspect ratio: 1.33 : 1

OVGuide: "Plot: The story of the life of the baseball player Mickey Mantle up to age 24."

The first link at the Internet Movie DataBase (imdb.com) shows actor James Dean for some reason.  Dean did not portray Mickey Mantle in this TV play.  Actor James Olson played Mantle.  Olson's later photos and screen credits are familiar but in 1956 he was making the first performance listed for him in imdb.com.  Olson was born one year before Mantle.

I vaguely recall watching this when I was eight.  I seem to recall a scene with Mickey in a hospital bed and his father in another bed, sick with cancer.  After the play was over I think the real Mickey walked out on stage.  I'm not sure about any of these recollections.

The Tech Specs indicate that this play was done live.

1. Is there a recording?
2. Does anyone remember watching it, either in 1956 or a recording?
3. Who wrote it?
4. Was it well received?

If the date is accurate, then it was the night of the first World Series game that year: Wednesday, October 3, 1956 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn: Dodgers won 6-3.  Mantle homered in that game but there was no game the next afternoon.  There was no reason for an off day, so I'm guessing that game two was rained out and that it had nothing to do with the possible TV appearance Wednesday night by Mantle.

Note: Don Larsen pitched his perfect game Monday, October 8, 1956 at Yankee Stadium in game five.  If the teams had played every day I wonder if Larsen would have started that Monday after pitching poorly in game two on Friday, October 5, instead of Thursday when the game should have been played.

1956–57 United States network television schedule

Wednesday 9:00PM-10:00PM:
NBC Kraft Television Theatre (Color)

Kraft Television Theatre is an American drama/anthology television series that began May 7, 1947 on NBC, airing at 7:30pm on Wednesday evenings until December of that year. In January 1948, it moved to 9pm on Wednesdays, continuing in that timeslot until 1958. Initially produced by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, the live hour-long series offered television plays with new stories and new characters each week,[1] in addition to adaptations of such classics as A Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland...

Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 45–48 minutes

(Rod) Serling won an Emmy for scripting Patterns (January 12, 1955), the best remembered episode of the series. The drama had such an impact that it made television history by staging a second live encore performance three weeks later and was developed as a feature film, also titled Patterns.

Monday, December 10, 2012

40 HR per year: batter count / team count.

Click this link to view data and graph for seasons 1920 through 2012.

It contains a count of the number of batters who hit at least 40 home runs (HR) in a season and the number of American and National teams in that season.  The number of players is divided by the number of teams and represented as a percentage: the count of 40 HR batters relative to the number of teams.

I could have made this more meaningful if I had factored in the extra 5.2% games scheduled after expansion began in 1961/1962.  Using 38 or 39 HR for seasons before 1961 would have given more accurate numbers but I decided to keep it simple.

The graph really tells a story.  I was shocked that recent seasons were so much higher even when the increased number of teams was considered.

A record was set in 1961 (44%) that was not broken until the current record was set in 1996 (61%).  The 1961 number was also exceeded in these seasons: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000.  2001 was close: 40%.  Since then:

2002 26.67%
2003 33.33%
2004 30.00%
2005 30.00%
2006 36.67%
2007 16.67%
2008 6.67%
2009 16.67%
2010 6.67%
2011 6.67%
2012 20.00%

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Season Home Run record 2: Bonds, McGwire, Maris.

It's silly to compare the three most recent record holders to Babe Ruth in terms of how much better they were compared to the other players in the league that season.  Ruth is way ahead.  But it makes sense to compare them to each other.

Roger Maris 1961 61 2.81 (base)    expansion year
Mark McGwire 1998 70 3.86  (37.3%)    expansion year; 1993 was also an expansion year
Barry Bonds 2001 73 3.67  (30.4%)

Bonds is 30.4% ahead of Maris and McGwire is 37.3% ahead of Maris.  I'm guessing that no amount of chemicals could reasonably be expected to explain that.

In 1961 the American League (AL) expanded from 8 to 10 teams, a 25 percent dilution factor.  Unlike future expansions, all players were taken from the existing AL teams, but not from the National League (NL).  So most, but not all, of the talent dilution probably occurred in the AL.  That could have been a big help to the top AL HR hitters in 1961.

Maris had these advantages in 1961 over conditions just one year earlier:
1. weaker pitching
2. 5.2% more games; because of that and relatively few walks, Maris had 50 more at bats that Ruth in 1927
3. Mickey Mantle batted behind Maris most of the time in 1961, although not for HR 60 & 61, both of which were hit in those extra games at the end of the season.

On the other hand, in 1960 with Mantle batting behind Maris only at the end of the season and in the World Series, Maris through the Yankees first 100 games had 35 HR and was on pace to hit about 55 in the AL's final 154 game regular season.  However, Maris was injured and finished with 39, one fewer than Mantle who led the AL for the fourth and final time.  A reasonable guess is that had 1961 had those same conditions that Maris might have hit about 58 HR but not break the record.  I'll take a close look at the top six AL HR hitters in 1961 in a future post.

Season Home Run record 1: Bonds, McGwire, Maris, Ruth, Craveth.

Click link to view lots of details on these eight modern record setting seasons.  The percent difference is between the player's home run (HR) rate per at bat (AB) and that of the league that season minus the player's HR and AB.  Babe Ruth out homered every other team in both 1920 and 1927, so his percent of the American League (AL) HR was substantial.  In his four record setting seasons:

In this equation each letter represents (HR/AB) for either the player or the league minus the player.  The result is the number of times the player's HR rate is better than all the other batters in that league that season.  For instance in 1919 Babe Ruth was 10.76 better than the other AL batters.

Player Year  HR (HR/AB)
Gavvy Craveth 1915 24 8.23
Babe Ruth 1919 29 10.76
Babe Ruth 1920 54 14.54
Babe Ruth 1921 59 10.05
Babe Ruth 1927 60 11.19
Roger Maris 1961 61 2.81    expansion year
Mark McGwire 1998 70 3.86    expansion year; 1993 was also an expansion year
Barry Bonds 2001 73 3.67

Note that Maris has the least advantage over the other player's in his league that season.  I intend to do a detailed analysis of that 1961 record setting season.

I will follow with more comments on the rest of the data in subsequent posts.  See:

Home Run Proficiency relative to League. Thursday, December 13, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

20 homers before 1920.

1 Babe Ruth 1919 29 24 BOS AL 130 543 432 103 139 34 12 114 101 58 6 3 7 .322 .456 .657 1.114 *71/38
2 Gavvy Cravath 1915 24 34 PHI NL 150 621 522 89 149 31 7 115 86 77 6 7 11 9 .285 .393 .510 .902 *9
3 Frank Schulte 1911 21 28 CHC NL 154 687 577 105 173 30 21 107 76 71 3 31 23 .300 .384 .534 .918 *9
4 Buck Freeman 1899 25 27 WHS NL 155 634 588 107 187 19 25 122 23 26 18 5 21 .318 .362 .563 .925 *9/1
5 Sam Thompson 1889 20 29 PHI NL 128 575 533 103 158 36 4 111 36 22 6 24 .296 .348 .492 .839 *9
6 Cap Anson 1884 21 32 CHC NL 112 504 475 108 159 30 3 102 29 13 0 .335 .373 .543 .916 *3/261
7 Abner Dalrymple 1884 22 26 CHC NL 111 535 521 111 161 18 9 69 14 39 0 .309 .327 .505 .832 *7
8 Fred Pfeffer 1884 25 24 CHC NL 112 492 467 105 135 10 10 101 25 47 0 .289 .325 .514 .839 *4/1
9 Ned Williamson 1884 27 26 CHC NL 107 459 417 84 116 18 8 84 42 56 0 .278 .344 .554 .898 *52/1
Generated 12/7/2012.

Nine times, by nine different players (four on that 1884 Cubs team) before 1920.  For seasons 1920-1929, 20 HR were hit 67 times.

I've already written about Ned Williamson's 27.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Home Run hitting on steroids: 1920s?

In 1884 Ned Williamson hit 27 home runs (HR).  It's pretty well accepted that the record is tainted because the fences in his home park had been moved very close to home plate.  He hit 25 of 27 at home.  Plus 1884 is before the modern rules had been established.

For purposes of this topic, I'll consider the modern HR record to have been set at 24 in 1915 by Gavvy Cravath who had led the National League (NL) the previous two seasons with 19.

I'll probably stick with Cravath's 24 HR in 1915 as the modern record that Ruth broke in 1919 but his home/road splits aren't much better Williamson's: 19/5.  Plus, two of his five road HR were inside the park (IPHR).

Note: before 1932 a fair ball that bounced over a fence was a home run (HR).  No kidding.  Supposedly, Ruth never hit any bounced HR.

For those two 19 HR seasons by Cravath:
1913: 14 home (four bounced), 5 road (2 bounced, one IPHR)
1914: 19 home (one bounced), ZERO road

HR records just get curiouser and curiouser.

I consider modern batting rules to begin in 1903 when the American League followed the National League and started to count foul balls as the first two strikes.  I generally do not analyse data before 1903.

Frank Schulte, a lefty batter, is the only other modern player with 20 HR before 1920.  His HR 1910-1915: 10, 21, 12, 9, 5, 12.  Already it looks suspicious.  Frank Schulte played for the NL Chicago Cubs 1904 into 1916 when he went to Pittsburgh mid season.  In 1911 when Schulte hit 21 HR the Cubs played in West Side Grounds where the Cubs played from 1893-1915.  Dimensions: 340 down each line, 560 in center.  The 1911 Cubs hit 54 HR, second to Philadelphia's 60.  Second on the Cubs to Schulte was Heinie Zimmerman (9) who would lead the NL the next season with 14 HR.

Batters in all major leagues, including the Federal League in 1915, with at least 10 HR in those three record breaking seasons before 1920:

1 Frank Schulte 21 1911 28 CHC NL 154 687 577 105 173 30 21 107 76 71 3 31 23 .300 .384 .534 .918 *9
2 Fred Luderus 16 1911 25 PHI NL 146 609 551 69 166 24 11 99 40 76 4 14 6 .301 .353 .472 .825 *3
3 Sherry Magee 15 1911 26 PHI NL 121 514 445 79 128 32 5 94 49 33 6 14 22 .288 .366 .483 .849 *7/9
4 Larry Doyle 13 1911 24 NYG NL 143 622 526 102 163 25 25 77 71 39 5 20 38 .310 .397 .527 .924 *4
5 Chief Wilson 12 1911 27 PIT NL 148 603 544 72 163 34 12 107 41 55 4 14 10 .300 .353 .472 .826 *9/8
6 Fred Merkle 12 1911 22 NYG NL 149 604 541 80 153 24 10 84 43 60 6 14 49 .283 .342 .431 .773 *3
7 Dick Hoblitzell 11 1911 22 CIN NL 158 694 622 81 180 19 13 91 42 44 8 22 32 .289 .342 .415 .757 *3
8 Home Run Baker 11 1911 25 PHA AL 148 659 592 96 198 42 14 115 40 39 2 25 38 .334 .379 .508 .887 *5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/7/2012.

1 Gavvy Cravath 24 1915 34 PHI NL 150 621 522 89 149 31 7 115 86 77 6 7 11 9 .285 .393 .510 .902 *9
2 Hal Chase 17 1915 32 BUF FL 145 596 567 85 165 31 10 89 20 50 1 8 23 .291 .316 .471 .787 *3/9
3 Cy Williams 13 1915 27 CHC NL 151 566 518 59 133 22 6 64 26 49 10 12 15 10 .257 .305 .398 .703 *8
4 Dutch Zwilling 13 1915 26 CHI FL 150 635 548 65 157 32 7 94 67 65 2 18 24 .286 .366 .442 .808 *8/3
5 Benny Kauff 12 1915 25 BTT FL 136 581 483 92 165 23 11 83 85 50 6 7 55 .342 .446 .509 .955 *8
6 Frank Schulte 12 1915 32 CHC NL 151 628 550 66 137 20 6 62 49 68 2 27 19 17 .249 .313 .373 .686 *7/9
7 Beals Becker 11 1915 28 PHI NL 112 376 338 38 83 16 4 35 26 48 1 11 12 15 .246 .301 .414 .716 *7/9
8 Vic Saier 11 1915 24 CHC NL 144 568 497 74 131 35 11 64 64 62 2 5 29 9 .264 .350 .445 .795 *3
9 Ed Konetchy 10 1915 29 PBS FL 152 636 576 79 181 31 18 93 41 52 3 16 27 .314 .363 .483 .846 *3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/7/2012.

1 Babe Ruth 29 1919 24 BOS AL 130 543 432 103 139 34 12 114 101 58 6 3 7 .322 .456 .657 1.114 *71/38
2 Gavvy Cravath 12 1919 38 PHI NL 83 256 214 34 73 18 5 45 35 21 2 4 8 .341 .438 .640 1.078 *9/78
3 Home Run Baker 10 1919 33 NYY AL 141 623 567 70 166 22 1 83 44 18 2 9 13 .293 .346 .388 .734 *5
4 Benny Kauff 10 1919 29 NYG NL 135 543 491 73 136 27 7 67 39 45 3 11 21 .277 .334 .422 .756 *8
5 George Sisler 10 1919 26 SLB AL 132 560 511 96 180 31 15 83 27 20 5 18 28 .352 .390 .530 .921 *3
6 Tillie Walker 10 1919 31 PHA AL 126 497 456 47 133 30 6 64 26 41 0 15 8 .292 .330 .450 .779 *87/9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/7/2012.