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Baseball-Reference FAQs

Posted by Mike Lynch on April 22, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers appear below

  • Why do some players have more games played than their teams?
  • How is the Power/Speed Number Computed?
  • Do you know your OPS+ numbers are different from PRO+ in Total Baseball?
  • Where can I get box scores for a specific game?
  • Have you considered adding uniform data?
  • Do you have a list of all the uniform numbers for all players?
  • Can you contact a player or do you know how to get in touch with them?
  • Can I get a big database (or spreadsheet) of your stats?
  • Can you answer a rules question for me?
  • Can you answer particular questions about home runs or grand slams?
  • Do you have minor league stats for the players?
  • Why don't you include biographies for the players?
  • Why don't you have Negro League statistics?
  • What is pythagorean winning percentage?
  • What are the minimum requirements to lead a Rate Stat?
  • Where can I find payroll and salary data?

Why do some players have more games played than their teams?

In the early part of the century before lights, it was quite common for games to be called on account of darkness. These games were counted in the stats, but not in the win-loss column. Some players have 162 games played compared to 152 for their teams. As a result there are teams that played ten or more doubleheaders in the last month of the season not unlike Cleveland in 2000. This happens occassionally now due to things like rainouts. For instance, in 2003 Hideki Matsui played 163 games, while they Yankees had a 162 game season.

How is the Power/Speed Number Computed?

This value attempts to find players with a balance of speed (SB) and power (HR). It is calculated as 2*HR*SB/(HR + SB), so Eric Davis in 1986 had 80 SB and 27 HR, so his Power/Speed Number was 2 * 80 * 27/(80+27) = 40.4.

Do you know your OPS+ numbers are different from PRO+ in Total Baseball?

Yes, that is because I'm computing it in a different way. Even if it was the same technique the numbers would be different due to TB's non-use of SF in OBP, rounding in the park factors and other differences in the park factors we use. These differences are why I did not call my number PRO+.

Where can I get box scores for a specific game?

There are a couple of resources I would recommend.

  • For seasons since 1914, Our Box Score site has all of the games.
  • The Sporting News has been existence almost as long as baseball and has for much of its existence contained box scores for every game. A good library (both public and university) should be able to help you find a specific game so long as you have an approximate date and teams.
  • Local newspapers from that period are another good option.

Can you contact a player or do you know how to get in touch with them?

I'm sorry, but I don't have any addresses (e-mail or otherwise for players). For current players, I would recommend you write their current team to get in touch with them. For retired or out of work players, I would suggest you contact the Major League Baseball Players Association, whose website isn't set up to help such things. Here is a question? Why don't all major league players get e-mail addresses through the player's association site?

Can I get a big database (or spreadsheet) of your stats?

Yes, you can. Just not from me. Sean Lahman has a free database that is the basis for most of the stats on this site. You can get it from Baseball1.com and load it into Microsoft Access or Excel or in my case MySQL or you can get it from the Baseball Databank. If you just want career numbers, I would recommend you go to my alphabetical player registers. Here is the entry for batters whose last name starts with "A". The rest are available on the letter index page reachable either from the front page or the players page.

Can you answer a rules question for me?

I can try, but I'm no expert on the rules. A better place to look is on majorleague baseball.com. Their rules section has a surprisingly good search engine and you can generally answer your questions very quickly there.

Can you answer particular questions about home runs or grand slams?

I don't have a database of home run information as such, but I know someone who does. The Society for American Baseball Research has a home run log of every home run ever hit. Who hit it, off whom, where, when, how many were on base, etc. It is remarkably extensive and you can make requests to them.

Since 1914, I have a log of every home run hit and that is linked from the player pages.

Do you have minor league stats for the players?

Our minor league stats are provided by SABR. For more info on the data coverage, please see this link: http://sabr.org/content/historical-minor-league-statistics

Why don't you include biographies for the players?

With over 16,000 players, there is no time. Off the web, Total Baseball Biographical Encyclopedia is a must have. That said, I want to have biographical info. For instance how do you pronounce players names? Did they have any interesting nicknames, characteristics? I suspect what I'll do at some point is invite users to write biographies and include well written ones on the site.

What is pythagorean winning percentage?

Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team's winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. Developed by Bill James, it can tell you when teams were a bit lucky or unlucky. It is calculated by

               (Runs Scored)^1.83
---------------------------------------------------------
 (Runs Scored)^1.83 +  (Runs Allowed)^1.83

The traditional formula uses an exponent of two, but this has proven to be a little more accurate.

What are the minimum requirements to lead a Rate Stat?

This is a bit of a dicey proposition as the standards have changed quite a bit throughout time. Here are how I computed them for the website. Thanks to Bill Deane, Gerry Myerson and Total Baseball for clarifying some of these issues.

Batting Average, OBP, Slugging Percentage, OPS

  • Prior to 1920, a player must have appeared in 60% of the team's games to qualify for a title.
  • From 1920-1944, a player must have appeared in 100 games, unless it is the 1938 AL. That year Jimmie Foxx (.349 in 149 games) was awarded the batting title over Taffy Wright (.350 in 100 games) for that season I used 101 games as the cutoff. Fair? Probably not.
  • From 1945-1956, a player must have 2.6 at bats per team game. Note however, that from 1951-1954 a player could lead if they still led after the necessary number of hitless at bats were added to their at bat total.
  • From 1957 to the present, a player must have 3.1 plate appearances per team game. Note however, that from 1967 to the present a player could lead if they still led after the necessary number of hitless plate appearances were added to their at bat total.
  • From 2012 to the present, the Melky Cabrera rule was put in effect. No player suspended for a violation of the MLB drug policy may add hitless AB's to their totals to reach the minimum required PA's. Since this is only applied to drug suspended players, we are likewise following this policy. At the time there was some confusion on our part and elsewhere as to how this was going to be applied, but I'm satisfied with MLB's decision since it does exclude players like Joey Votto who won the OBP title in 2012 with fewer than 502 PA's.

Winning Percentage

  • The minimum number of decisions is the number team games that season divided by twelve.

Earned Run Average, WHIP, etc.

  • One inning pitched per team game that season.

Where can I find payroll and salary data? We have that data on team, player and league pages back to 1985. Prior to that the data is not generally available.

Other questions? Ask me another question

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