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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Who pitches to whom?

Yesterday on MLB Network's Clubhouse Confidential program there was a discussion about the American Conference Cy Young award.  They sort of compared the batting records of teams against which the top two candidates pitched: winner David Price (153 points) and runner up Justin Verlander (149).  Price supposedly faced better batters, although runs scored by the opposing teams was never mentioned and only OPS, not OPS+.

For instance the Yankees, who play in the same division as Price, scored:
- home: 406 Runs in 3,004 PA; OPS .807; HR 138
- road: 398 Runs in 3,227 PA; OPS .774; HR 107

It's a good general point, to look at opposing batters, but it can be done with much more granularity, a word from my distant corporate past.

It reminded me of something I stumbled upon when researching Duke Snider after his death in 2011.

Monday, February 28, 2011
Duke Snider died at 84.

Snider's HR splits home/road and v. righty/lefty pitchers detract from his big home run seasons and overall career stats.  See the data.

During his five consecutive 40 HR seasons Snider hit these HR against lefty pitchers: 3, 2, 3, 1, 0.  1956: 40 homers, all against righty pitchers, probably a record.  For perspective, all 1956 Dodgers against lefties:294 / 8 = 36.75.  The entire Dodger team hit only 8 homers against lefty pitchers.  Snider was very well protected in a heavily right handed hitting lineup, which faced few lefties.

In 1957 Hall of Fame southpaw Warren Spahn won the MLB Cy Young award.  He faced the Dodgers only once: Sunday, August 4, 1957 1:32PM, County Stadium.  Spahn relieved in the ninth and faced two batters: Don Zimmer and Jim Gilliam, retiring both; Spahn was credited with a save.

Remember, when the pitching award named after Cy Young started, there was only one award per season from 1956 through 1966.  After that an award was given in each of two entities: American and National.  I wonder if Spahn would have been viewed differently if they had used the criteria described above back in 1957.  Spahn would have won; he received all but one vote (there was no point system then), the other going to Dick Donovan.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Back to the Future: one year contracts?

Some of the comments about the death of the original pioneer baseball union leader Marvin Miller dealt with his having negotiated for limited free agency, rather than having all players eligible for free agency every year.  Supposedly Miller did that intentionally to limit the number of free agents in any particular season.  I am skeptical but don't actually know whether Miller was really clever on this point or simply lucked out.  Once many players started signing multi-year contracts, the pool of free agents per year would be limited anyway so I'm not sure this was even needed but as they say in the movie Who Shot Liberty Valance?: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

But it got me thinking.  What if players signed one year contracts, instead of trying for long multi-year deals?  I can understand why older players would want to extend their market value onto their final seasons when they are likely to be less productive.  Yankee pitcher Hiroki Kuroda signed a one year contract to play in 2012 at age 37 and recently signed another one year contract to pitch for the Yankees again in 2013 when he will be 38.  That makes him a double exception.  For 2009 through 2012 Kuroda was paid $12, $15, $12, $10 million.

There's probably a simple explanation as to what would happen but what would happen if all players were free agents after every season?

Could this happen with the type of collective bargaining agreement currently in place?  I'm guessing that if teams agreed informally to offer only one year deals that it would be construed by the courts as collusion.  But what if market leader New York Yankees announced this as their new strategy going forward?  What if other teams followed?

How would the players react?  Obviously, this would be a good strategy for some but not all players.  Twenty year old MVP runner up Mike Trout might benefit.  But what about Alex Rodriguez who will be 38 in July?

I'm a bit surprised that more players don't try for one year contracts for various reasons.

Marvin Miler's old nemesis Bowie Kuhn predicted chaos and he may have been correct if Miller had not agreed to limit free agency.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

World Series: good pitching beats good hitting.

Duh!  OK, get in your digs.  Stop the presses.  No more tweeting.  Blah, blah, blah.

I continued my research from:

Sunday, November 4, 2012
World Series Team Stats 1903-2011.

There's some cool stuff there and more here.  Basically I looked at team scoring for individual seasons and compared runs per game regular season v. World Series (WS).

Click this link to see the data and graph or click the graph below to see more detail.

For the 107 WS from 1903 through 2011 here are the per game averages:
winners; -0.49
losers: -1.75

Winners averaged 1.25 more runs per game than losers, which is a lot, especially for elite teams.

The good news is that winning teams are doing better in recent seasons in the WS than in the regular season.  14 times from 1987 - 2011 WS winners scored better in the WS.  14 out of 24: 58%.  For all WS: 36/107 = 34%.

For the 43 WS since 1968, losers have scored better in the WS only in 1993, 1997, 2002: 7%.  For all WS only seven losers scored better: 6.5%.  Here are the losers runs per game WS improvement:

1960 NYA 3
2002 SFN 1.45
1997 CLE .89
1993 PHI .59
1964 NYA .26
1968 SLN .26
1932 CHN .07

As mentioned in that previous post:

1960 Yankees:
- .911 OPS, highest of any team with more than four games; exceeded only by Yankees 1932, Oakland 1989, Boston 2007 - the only other WS teams over .900
- 55 runs; second: Toronto 1993 with 45

Batting Average:
16 teams >= .300  Tops: 1960 Yankees .338 (most runs 55)
25 teams < .200 Lowest: 1966 Los Angeles .142 (fewest runs 2)

8 teams >=.500
 1989 Oakland .582 (four games)
 1928 Yankees .530 (four games)
 1960 Yankees .528

7 teams >= 70; most 1960 Yankees 91, 1979 Pittsburgh 81
22 teams < 30; fewest 1966 LA 17

The 1960 Yanks scored 22% more runs losing than any other WS team did winning or losing before or since.  In four of their seven games the 1960 Yankees scored 47 runs, two more than runner up Toronto scored in six games in 1993.  If you sorted the runs for each team for the seven 1960 WS games and lined them up, the Yankees could have swept all seven games.  Randomness run rampant.

Collapse is coming.

A friend sent this about the Dodger TV deal:


25-year broadcast deal valued between $6 billion and $7 billion

I don't care how many decades these deals seem to entail, if the ratings plummet, which I think they will, the advertising money will dry up and the inevitable downward spiral will blow down the house of cards.

Sunday, March 29, 2009
Super League

Even a Super League of eight to ten teams may not survive this madness.  Who the heck cares that much about baseball any more?  I love baseball but not this slow, boring mess that the Major Baseball League (MBL) has devolved into.  Here is the future in less than a decade:

1. Americans are not playing baseball.
2. Americans are not attending baseball games.
3. Americans are not watching baseball.

Yesterday on the MLB Network I watched part of a program in which experts were evaluating how many tens of millions of dollars specific players would receive in new contracts.  The experts think that pretty much every player is due to receive $100 million.  One or two twice that amount.  These experts just blithely babble on about this junk without a second thought. Twenty million this year.  Twenty million that year.  Plenty to go around.

Wake the heck up.  This junk is not sustainable.

Cabrera, Granderson, Hamilton, Trout home/road Home Run rates.

(What if) Curtis Granderson and/or Josh Hamilton hit two homers in the final game to pass Cabrera?

That's from my November 23 post: Miguel Cabrera MVP supporters: what if ...

I received a comment, which contained this: "It doesn't matter what Hamilton or Granderson did in their bandbox ballparks".

I had already addressed this in part:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cabrera hit 28 home runs (HR) at home in 295 at bats (AB) and only 16 on the road in 327 AB.  AB/HR: 10.5/20.4.

Miguel Cabrera's home rate was about twice as good at home.  But let's look at Hamilton and Granderson as the commentor suggests but did not bother to do.  Maybe he's bucking for a network job.

The real point here is why are people so lazy?  The data is readily available for free.  Why not check before writing something that can be checked and possibly refuted.  OK, here is the data for those three plus Mike Trout just for fun.

Player Place AB HR AB/HR Pct higher (percent more AB to homer on road)
Trout Home 261 16 16.31
Trout Away 298 14 21.29 30.49%
Cabrera Home 295 28 10.54
Cabrera Away 327 16 20.44 93.98%
Granderson Home 286 26 11.00
Granderson Away 310 17 18.24 65.78%
Hamilton Home 280 22 12.73
Hamilton Away 282 21 13.43 5.51%

Friday, November 23, 2012

Baseball will crash in 2020.

1. Attendance at games is becoming less important as revenue increases from regional sports networks.  Ticket prices are too high and people can get better views of games on television in HD.

2. Teams are now cooperating with secondary channels that sell tickets at very low prices.

3. Money paid to players is still very high and cannot be sustained once attendance plummets.

4. Baseball is being outsourced.  Only 75% of players are born in the USA.

5. Few young Americans are playing baseball.  This will decrease interest in watching baseball even on TV.  With TV viewing down, advertising dollars will decrease and the bloated TV deals will wither contributing to the downward spiral.

6. Baseball has long been unwatchable.  It is slow and boring.  It is dominated by pitching and debilitated by absurd rituals like changing pitchers that suck the life out of a once great game.   The only way to watch baseball is to record it and watch by fast forwarding between all 300 pitches.  There should be a service that condenses games so the viewer does not need to push the FF button so often.

The Bud Selig house of cards will come down and the establishment will not react well or quickly exacerbating the problems.  Because Americans will stop playing or attending games, baseball will fade into history.

Will this happen in the year 2020?  Maybe but it will happen.

Miguel Cabrera MVP supporters: what if ...

1. Curtis Granderson and/or Josh Hamilton hit two homers in the final game to pass Cabrera?

2. Chicago White Sox sucked just a little less down the stretch?  Instead of blowing a three game lead over Detroit by going 4-11 (none against Detroit but 0-3 against Mike Trout's Angels), White Sox were 8-7, finishing one game ahead of Detroit with Trout's Angels making the tournament instead of Cabrera's Tigers?  Without Trout's Angels beating Chicago, White Sox go 7-8 and tie Tigers.

3. White Sox and Tigers tied and played an extra regular season game for the division with the loser not making the tournament and Cabrera struck out all four plate appearances leaving ten runners on base?

Would you still support Miguel Cabrera over Mike Trout if any of those happened?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

YES Network sale: will Yankees lose incentive to win and will it be part of baseball's decline?

News Corp. is buying 49% of the YES (Yankees Entertainment Sports)  network with the Yankees agreeing to be paid for 30 years for the rights to televise the Yankee games.

That provides a steady revenue to the Yankees.  Will it cause the Yankees to lose their incentive to win?  Is the revenue stream impacted by ratings?  If not, then the Yankees will have less incentive.

The huge sums being generated by sports networks is making attendance less important.  Games are becoming staged events, which eventually could be performed in studios with fans as extras.

All this combined with baseball being outsourced and played by fewer and fewer kids means that the structure of professional baseball may collapse by 2020.  People just won't waste so much time watching much less attending games.  The Major Baseball League (MBL) will be in turmoil and a billion dollar industry will wonder how it could have entrusted its leadership to an incompetent like Bud Selig.  By then it will be way too late to recover.  Baseball as the American national pastime will become a part of our past, not our future.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cabrera v. Trout on the road against the other teams.

Sunday, May 22, 2011
Williams v. DiMaggio on the road against the six other teams.

I just started comparing Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio year by year from 1939 through 1951.  The main thing I want to look at is their numbers on road against the six other teams...

Basically, I'm taking their road data and subtracting their data against each other's team on the road.  That leaves road stats against the other six teams.  For instance for DiMaggio, it's his road data minus his data in Fenway Park.  For Williams, it's his road data minus his data in Yankees Stadium.

This seemed like the most objective way to compare their batting: against the same teams in the same parks.  I thought DiMaggio would generally have an advantage batting against Boston because I thought that Yankee pitching would usually be better than Boston's since the Yankees won more often.  So I eliminated how they batted against each other's pitching and I eliminated their home parks where Williams would have an advantage.

Sunday, May 22, 2011
Williams v. DiMaggio on the road against the six other teams, Part 2.

In my devilishly clever comparison, I isolated batting stats, eliminating the need for ball park factor.  Williams and DiMaggio are compared season by season by their road numbers in the six other American League parks.  On Base Plus Slugging (OPS) is sufficient.  No need for OPS+, which takes into account park and season.

I think this is a valid method to compare two batters who played in the same league during many seasons.  For Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams there was a large sample size of plate appearances (PA): 2,435 and 2,759.

For the 2012 American Conference (AC) MVP leaders, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, there are some problems in using this method but it might be fun to take a look.

1. It's only one season.  DiMaggio and Williams shared PA on the road against the six other teams in ten seasons: 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949 (DiMaggio was injured and had only 146 PA), 1950, 1951 (DiMaggio's last with only 171 PA).

2. Except during WWI (1918-1919) from 1903 through 1960 both the American and National Leagues had delightfully consistent and fair schedules: 22 games against the other seven teams, 11 home, 11 road.  In some seasons not all games were played and there were ties but that was the schedule.  In recent seasons the Major Baseball League (MBL) has made a dysfunctional, inconsistent, unfair mess of the regular season schedule.

Trout's Angels played these National Conference (NC) West teams on the road: Colorado 3, LA Dodgers 3, San Diego 3; the Angels played Arizona and San Francisco at home.

Cabrera's Tigers played these NC Central teams on the road: Chicago Cubs 3, Cincinnati 3, Pittsburgh 3; also St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Colorado at home.  Colorado?  What the heck?  Pittsburgh home AND road.  What?

For all 2012 road batting:
                  BA OBP  SLG  OPS
Trout       .332 .407 .544 .951
Cabrera   .327 .384 .529 .913

Wow, Trout sweeps.

Click this link to see data per common park.  In his short career Mike Trout has never played in Tampa.

Cabrera and Trout both played in these eleven parks with very different numbers of PA.  However, here are their total PA: Tout 261, Cabrera 289.  Here are their OPS:

                        Trout Cabrera
BAL-Camden Yards 1 1.367
BOS-Fenway Pk 0.958 0.922
CHW-US Cellular 0.872 0.841
CLE-Progressive 0.771 0.96
KCR-KauffmanStad 0.607 0.960
MIN-Target Field 1.306 1.101
NYY-Yankee Stad  1.319 1.189
OAK-Coliseum 0.634 1.056
SEA-Safeco Fld 0.771 0
TEX-Rangers Bpk 1.237 1.042
TOR-Rogers Ctr 0.982 1.117

Trout wins 6, Cabrera 5.  Cabrera was 0 for 13 in Seattle.  Zero for 3 against Felix Herdandez, in case you were wondering.

OPS weighted by PA:
Trout: .925
Cabrera:  .968

Friday, November 16, 2012

Miguel Cabrera: how good was his triple crown?

BA: .330    Mike Trout .326 1.2%
HR: 44    Josh Hamilton 43 2.3%
RBI: 139    Josh Hamilton 128 8.6%

Miguel Cabrera led the Amrican Conference in batting average (BA), home runs (HR) and runs batted in (RBI).  Above are the percent difference (difference / lower number) between Cabrera and the batters who finished second.  Those percent differences are modest but Cabrera was competing against many more batters than did those who achieved a triple crown since 1903.

See my research from August 2011 and decide for yourself how Cabrera fits in.  Some excerpts:

The main reason that it has not been done since 1967 is that there are 87.5% more teams and players than before modern expansion started in 1961 (AL) and 1962 (NL).  MLB has gone from 16 teams to 30.  The only two to do it after that were Frank Robinson (1966) and Carl Yastrzemski (1967) when there were still only 20 teams.  MLB expanded to 24 teams in 1969 and that pretty much ended the triple crown.  Plus, Robinson and Yastrzemski had the lowest BA of any triple crown winners...

Consider some sluggers who led in BA who did not do it: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez and Pujols.  This suggests the random nature of the triple crown...

Frank Robinson finished first only once in all three but they all happened to occur in the same season.  Three others finished first in two of the three only once: Medwick, Mantle and Yastrzemski...

Triple crown in one season including twice for two time winners Hornsby and Williams:
                                BA        HR        RBI
Average                        .361        38        136
Ave without Cobb                .3599        41        138

Triple Crown but not MVP: Klein, Gehrig, Williams, Williams.

The gibberish continues this morning about how the batting triple crown (leading the league/conference in home runs (HR), runs batted in (RBI) and batting average (BA) in the same season) pretty much entitles a batter to the most valuable player (MVP) award, which was first given in 1931.  This may be especially true if the batter's team finishes first in an arbitrarily defined division and plays most of its games outside that division and even though the team has fewer wins than two teams that do not qualify for the Major Baseball League (MBL) tournament.

Click link to read my August 14, 2011 Triple Crown research.

Miguel Cabrera dominated the vote of the writers and was awarded the American Conference (AC) MVP award.  Mike Trout, whose Angels team won one more game than Cabrera's Tigers but did not make the tournament, finished a solid but distant second, 362 points to 281; 22 first place votes to 6.

I'm guessing that many of those who voted for and/or supported Cabrera are also Ted Williams sycophants and Yankee haters who constantly whine that Williams finished second in MVP voting to Yankees in both his triple crown seasons, 1942 and 1947.  They never mention that Williams Red Sox teams did not finish first.

In 1942 Boston finished second, nine games behind the Yankees.  Yankee second baseman Joe Gordon beat Williams in MVP points 270 to 249, 12 first place votes to 9.  In 1947 Boston finished third, twelve games behind the Yankees.  Yankee center fielder Joe DiMaggio beat Williams in MVP points 202 to 201, 8 first place votes to 3.

They also never mention that two other Hall of Fame triple crown batters did not win the MVP award.

In 1933 Chuck Klein of the Philadelphia Phillies and Jimmie Foxx of the Philadelphia As led their respective leagues in the triple crown categories.  Neither Philadelphia team finished first.  The Phillies were seventh, 31 games behind the New York Giants and the As were third, 19.5 games behind Washington's last pennant winner, which lost the World Series to the Giants.  NL MVP points: Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell 77, Klein 48.  AL MVP points: Foxx 74, Joe Cronin Washington SS 62.

In 1934 Detroit won the AL pennant, seven games ahead of the second place Yankees who had two triple crown players: Lou Gehrig and southpaw pitcher Lefty Gomez who led the AL in wins, strike outs and ERA.  Gomez did it again in 1937.  Gehrig finished FIFTH behind three Tigers and even his own teammate Gomez.  You should live long enough to hear a Red Sox fan mention that.

Voting Results Batting Stats Pitching Stats
1 Mickey Cochrane DET 67.0 84% 3.7 129 437 74 140 2 76 8 78 .320 .428 .412 .840
2 Charlie Gehringer DET 65.0 81% 8.1 154 601 134 214 11 127 11 99 .356 .450 .517 .967
3 Lefty Gomez NYY 60.0 75% 7.4 38 99 8 13 0 4 0 6 .131 .189 .141 .330 26 5 2.33 1.133 38 33 1 281.2 223 12 96 158
4 Schoolboy Rowe DET 59.0 74% 6.6 51 109 15 33 2 22 0 6 .303 .339 .450 .789 24 8 3.45 1.278 45 30 1 266.0 259 12 81 149
5 Lou Gehrig NYY 54.0 68% 10.1 154 579 128 210 49 165 9 109 .363 .465 .706 1.172
6 Hank Greenberg DET 29.0 36% 5.8 153 593 118 201 26 139 9 63 .339 .404 .600 1.005
7 Hal Trosky CLE 18.0 22% 5.2 154 625 117 206 35 142 2 58 .330 .388 .598 .987
8 Wes Ferrell BOS 16.0 20% 4.7 34 78 12 22 4 17 1 7 .282 .341 .487 .828 14 5 3.63 1.403 26 23 1 181.0 205 4 49 67
9 Marv Owen DET 13.0 16% 3.0 154 565 79 179 8 96 3 59 .317 .385 .451 .837
10 Jimmie Foxx PHA 11.0 14% 8.6 150 539 120 180 44 130 11 111 .334 .449 .653 1.102
11 Al Simmons CHW 9.0 0.0 11% 4.2 138 558 102 192 18 104 3 53 .344 .403 .530 .933
12 Roy Johnson BOS 8.0 0.0 10% 1.9 143 569 85 182 7 119 11 54 .320 .379 .467 .846
12 Billy Werber BOS 8.0 0.0 10% 5.2 152 623 129 200 11 67 40 77 .321 .397 .472 .868
14 Goose Goslin DET 6.0 0.0 8% 2.4 151 614 106 187 13 100 5 65 .305 .373 .453 .826
15 Sam West SLB 5.0 0.0 6% 2.6 122 482 90 157 9 55 3 62 .326 .403 .469 .871
16 Mel Harder CLE 4.0 0.0 5% 6.7 44 87 9 14 0 5 0 3 .161 .189 .230 .419 20 12 2.61 1.281 44 29 4 255.1 246 6 81 91
17 Earl Averill CLE 3.0 0.0 4% 6.5 154 598 128 187 31 113 5 99 .313 .414 .569 .982
17 Pinky Higgins PHA 3.0 0.0 4% 4.0 144 543 89 179 16 90 9 56 .330 .392 .508 .901
19 Bill Knickerbocker CLE 2.0 0.0 2% 2.4 146 593 82 188 4 67 6 25 .317 .347 .408 .755
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/16/2012.

All other triple crown batters through 1967 were on pennant winners and voted MVP:

1937 Joe Medwick Cardinals; MVP points: Medwick 70, Gabby Hartnett Cubs 68.  Cubs were second by three games.  First place votes: Medwick 2, Hartnett 3, Harry Danning Giants catcher 1 and 10 points finishing 14th.  Danning batted .288 in 93 games.

1956 Mickey Mantle Yankees; MVP points: Mantle 336 (all first place votes), Yogi Berra 186.

1966 Frank Robinson Orioles; MVP points: Robinson 280 (all first place votes), Brooks Robinson 153.

1967 Carl Yastrzemski Red Sox; MVP points: Yastrzemski 275 (all but one first place votes), Harmon Killebrew Twins (second by one game) 171; Cesar Tovar, Killebrew's Twins teammate, got the other first place vote and 70 points tied for seventh.