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Span of Games Searches Enhanced in Play Index Game Finders

Posted by Mike Lynch on September 12, 2014

Just a quick post to announce that we've rolled out an enhancement to the Play Index Game Finders (comprised of Player Batting, Playing Pitching, Team Batting & Team Pitching Game Finders).

Previously, subscribers could customize their searches by a team's first "x" games. Now, you can also select a player's first "x" career games or a span of career games from "x" to "y." Additionally, team games can also be searched using any span from "x" to "y" within a season.

If the above made little sense, here's a few concrete examples of searches that can now be completed:

We hope you enjoy these new tools as much as we do. If you're not already a subscriber, but are interested in the Play Index, you can subscribe here for less than a dime per day.

9 Comments | Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, Features, Play Index, Uncategorized

Postseason Success Criteria Added to Play Index Split Finder

Posted by Mike Lynch on September 11, 2014

As we enter the final weeks of the MLB regular season, we've made a small (but useful) addition to the Play Index Team Batting & Team Pitching Split Finders. You can now refine your searches to include only non-playoff teams, playoff teams, division winners, Pennant winners or World Series winners.

With this feature, you can now find:

The above represents just a small fraction of what this new search is capable of doing. We encourage current Play Index subscribers to play around with this feature and share any interesting information.

If you're not a Play Index subscriber, but are interested in generating this sort of information, please read more about the Play Index or subscribe.

No Comments | Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Features, Play Index

The Real Problem with Baseball’s Defensive Stats

Posted by admin on September 8, 2014

After reading Jeff Passan's article about WAR and his view of its failings, I got a little hot under the collar and intemperate in my discussion of the issue on twitter.

The defensive metrics are constantly critiqued. I agree that there may be issues with the defensive stats, but my issues aren't the ones brought up by the critics. I believe that the metrics do a decent job of measuring the percent of time a particular ball with a particular hang time has been caught in the past. All you need for that is a stopwatch and a way to mark the play's location on the field. Sure there may be biases in this, but there are biases in who batters and pitchers face or even what umpire they appear against. So this isn't the biggest issue with fielding stats.

It's also true that fielding stats don't correlate quite as strongly year to year as the batting stats do (see chart after break), but there is also a lot more variability in opportunity for fielders than for batters (and more variability in batting stats than people perceive). A batter is going to get 3-6 PA's per game every game. The distribution of balls hit to fielders is much more random. But even this isn't the big issue with fielding stats.

20 Comments | Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com

The Complicated History of RBI

Posted by Mike Lynch on August 6, 2014

If you have spent an extended amount of time on Baseball-Reference, you have likely noticed that some of our RBI totals do not match what you will see on some other sites. A notable example would be none other than George Herman Ruth. We list him with 2,214 career RBI, with a career high of 168 in 1921. Many sources, however, credit him with 2,213 career RBI and a season high of 171 in 1921.

How can there be any dispute over how many runs the most iconic player in the history of baseball drove in?

We're glad you asked.

It might come as a surprise to some, but RBI was not an official statistic until 1920, which was Ruth's first season with the Yankees. And even then, Rule 86, Section 8 was remarkably vague from 1920-30, instructing official scorers only that:

"The summary shall contain: The number of runs batted in by each batsman."

That left plenty of room for interpretation of the scoring rule. In the absence of a strict definition, official scorers across the league were inconsistent in what they considered an RBI. This inconsistency polluted numbers for a decade, despite the fact that the statistic was finally "official."

It wasn't until 1931, when Rule 70, Section 13 made the definition more explicit, that a uniform policy for counting RBI existed:

"Runs Batted In are runs scored on safe hits (including home runs), sacrifice hits, outfield put-outs, infield put-outs, and when the run is forced over by reason of the batsman becoming a base-runner. With less than two outs, if an error is made on a play on which a runner from third would ordinarily score, credit the batsman with a Run Batted In."

While this definition has seen some tweaks over time, for the first time official scorers had a clear definition of what should count as an RBI (though tabulation errors were still an issue in a pre-computerized era).

With RBI not tracked by official scorers, where do the pre-1920 RBI numbers come from? Here is a breakdown of the history of various RBI sources.

These RBI numbers have been used in various encyclopedias over the years and have served as the basis for further research done by SABR members. This research, where 5-7 newspaper accounts are looked at for each game in order to deduce RBI, often proves earlier reconstructions (and official totals) wrong. This leads to the volatile nature of early RBI numbers. A well-detailed account of this process by SABR's Herm Krabbenhoft can be found here, showing how he meticulously worked through Ruth's career RBI totals.

These thoroughly researched corrections eventually make their way to Baseball-Reference via Pete Palmer's data after they have been sufficiently vetted, which is why you will see discrepancies between our numbers and what you see in some other places. We have full confidence that when such alterations are made, that we are putting forward the best possible data generated by countless hours of expert research.

2 Comments | Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, History, Uncategorized

Explaining the Honus Wagner Career Hits Discrepancy

Posted by Mike Lynch on July 29, 2014

As Derek Jeter continues his climb up baseball's all-time hits list, we have received several inquiries about Honus Wagner's career hit total. We list 3,420, while MLB lists him with 3,430 career hits. While the similarity of the numbers may imply a simple typo, it turns out that the reasons for the one-digit difference are not simple at all.

For an explanation of the history of this deviation, we spoke with Pete Palmer (the source for many of the statistics appearing on this site). Palmer explained that the 1969 Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia was the genesis of the difference. At the time, official NL statistics only went back to 1903. The encyclopedia created new statistics for years prior to that and the changes were approved by an MLB committee set up to rule on various statistics for inclusion in the encyclopedia. However, the Elias Sports Bureau, which is the official statistician for Major League Baseball, never accepted the committee ruling, which leads to some differing numbers between what you see on Baseball-Reference and what you see in official MLB records. Elias, instead, has always used data from the old Spalding Guides.

Pete Palmer (and by extension Baseball-Reference) has preferred to use the Macmillan data*, because daily figures exist to back the numbers up, which allows for the statistics to be proofed for greater accuracy. Here is a year-by-year look at the difference between our totals and the Spalding totals. These are all from Wagner's pre-1903 seasons (Baseball-Reference total listed first):

  • 1897: 81, 83
  • 1898: 176, 180
  • 1899: 196, 197
  • 1900: 201, 201
  • 1901: 194, 196
  • 1902: 176, 177

Another discrepancy that some of you may notice soon is that Baseball-Reference has Cap Anson with 3,435 career hits, while MLB has him with 3,011. While many discrepancies exist with that data, the bulk of the difference is the fact that we count Anson's 423 hits in the National Association, which we believe was clearly a major league.

TL;DR version: Our hit total for Honus Wagner is not a typo. We recognize it does not align with the official total, but we believe it is the most accurate number.

For further reading on some of the issues with official totals in baseball statistics, please read this excellent 2011 post by Retrosheet's Dave Smith.

*The Macmillan data excluded a few games that were protested and replayed in the 1890s. These statistics were included in the NL stats of the day (save for the wins and losses) and Palmer has added these statistics back into the Macmillan data to reflect this.

37 Comments | Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, History, Leaders, Uncategorized

New Awards Added to Baseball-Reference

Posted by Mike Lynch on July 22, 2014

We have rolled out a couple of new additions to our Awards Page:

The Edgar Martinez Award, recognizing the AL's top DH since 1973 & the Delivery Man of the Year, which recognized MLB's top reliever from 2005-13.

Beginning in 2014, the Delivery Man of the Year will be replaced by a pair of honors named for Mariano Rivera (AL) & Trevor Hoffman (NL).

7 Comments | Posted in Announcement, Awards, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, History

1901-02 Orioles Removed from Yankees History

Posted by Mike Lynch on July 21, 2014

Baseball-Reference has made the move to dissociate the New York Yankees franchise from the 1901 & 1902 Baltimore Orioles (not connected to the current Baltimore Orioles franchise). This adjustment allows us to fall in line with the Yankees franchise itself and most references including Total Baseball, edited by MLB's official historian, John Thorn, who authored an interesting history of the move. Additionally, Pete Palmer & Gary Gillette, the men behind the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, consider them separate franchises. A few years back, Gillette kindly shared his reasoning with us:

"We discussed this at length when we did the first edition of our new encyclopedia in 2004. IIRC, the deciding factor was that the Baltimore franchise went bust during the season and was turned over to the league. After the season, the league then sold a new franchise to investors in New York City. We felt that wasn't really a relocation or a transfer; it was simply filling the gap in the league that was opened when the Orioles' franchise disintegrated.

Of the 39 players who appeared for Baltimore in 1902, only five appeared for New York in 1903. Jimmy Williams was the regular second baseman for both clubs. Herm McFarland, a utility player in '02, became a regular outfielder in '03. Ernie Courtney played one game for Balto. in 1902, then 25 for NY in 1903. Harry Howell was the only pitcher of consequence to make the transition. Snake Wiltse (4 G in '03) also appeared for both."

 

This move was precipitated by the BAL/NYY joint record approaching the milestone of 10,000 wins, which caused a reassessment of how we approach this move. Some of the results in the play index may still reflect the two franchises as being one, but we will be working to fix that in the near future.

130 Comments | Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, History

All-Star Features on Baseball-Reference

Posted by Mike Lynch on July 14, 2014

Prepare for Tuesday's 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field with Baseball-Reference's All-Star features:

2 Comments | Posted in All-Star, Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, expire21d, Features

Roster Status Added to 2014 Team Pages – Baseball-Reference.com

Posted by sean on June 19, 2014

Per a user suggestion (keep the good ideas coming), we added some roster denotations to the current season team pages. Take a quick scan of this screen capture of the 2014 A's batting stats.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 09.26.59

We've always had this data on the 40-man roster pages, but this brings it to the main team pages. Bold players are on the current active roster (should be 25 per team), then for the inactive, we list whether they are on the DL or if not on the DL, we list if they are still on this team's 40-man roster. If they aren't DL'ed (by the team shown) or on the 40-man, they have nothing listed. This likely means that they've been released, waived or traded, or as in Daric Barton's case, they've been DFA'ed and sent to the minors.

2014 Oakland Athletics Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics - Baseball-Reference.com.

2 Comments | Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Uncategorized

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