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Speaking our Piece About Jack Morris

5th December 2013

I don't think it's a secret that the sabermetric case for Jack Morris is an especially thin one.  A ranking using WAR has him about the 25th best player on the ballot.  But we hear all of these stats about how much of a workhorse Morris was.  Here is an example from Tom Verducci.  Now it's true that Morris pitched into the 8th the most of his era, but when he did he was actually way below average among of group of pitchers who pitched 100+ outings of that length.

Morris worked deep in the games, but it was largely due to usage rather than effectiveness.   When he went 8 innings he was league average, when he went five innings he was league average.  The chart below shows the number of innings completed by the starter per start.  So the "0" row is not all first innings, but just the games they didn't make it out of the first inning.  Their complete games would be in the 9 row.  Now there is a value to pitching late into games and Morris should be credited by that value, but it certainly looks to me that a big reason Morris went late into games was the astronomical run support he was getting not because he was pitching so much better than the average pitcher.  Note that for outings last one inning or longer Morris' RA is WORSE than league average for every single outing length.

All AL SP's 1975-1997 Jack Morris Frank Tanana (1975 on)
completed innings % of all GS W-L% RA tmAvgRS % of all GS W-L% RA tmAvgRS % of all GS W-L% RA tmAvgRS
0 1.3 0.000 89.23 4.86 0.6 0.000 64.80 5.67 1.5 0.000 83.45 5.38
1 2.7 0.000 29.29 4.61 1.1 0.000 33.48 4.33 2.0 0.000 31.30 4.73
2 4.2 0.000 18.00 4.62 2.5 0.000 20.90 4.00 3.6 0.000 19.13 4.10
3 5.9 0.000 13.06 4.60 3.2 0.000 13.81 5.24 3.6 0.000 13.23 4.60
4 8.0 0.001 10.00 4.52 6.3 0.000 12.39 4.58 5.1 0.000 9.80 4.61
5 14.0 0.412 6.45 4.94 5.7 0.375 8.79 4.50 9.9 0.324 6.91 4.94
6 18.4 0.504 4.78 4.62 12.3 0.540 5.78 5.80 17.2 0.500 4.95 4.78
7 18.4 0.637 3.43 4.51 21.3 0.730 3.94 5.88 21.9 0.633 3.51 4.70
8 12.3 0.545 2.93 3.75 19.5 0.413 3.86 3.83 15.1 0.368 3.00 2.86
9 14.1 0.842 1.68 4.91 26.0 0.867 1.77 4.53 18.8 0.880 1.48 4.97
10 0.5 0.713 1.88 2.76 1.3 0.250 2.44 2.14 0.4 0.000 0.90 0.50
11 0.1 0.667 1.63 2.54 0.2 1.64 3.00 0.4 1.000 0.82 2.50
12 0.0 0.667 1.59 2.75 0.2 3.00 5.00
13 0.0 0.59 2.57 0.4 0.00 1.50
14 0.0 0.750 1.77 4.25


It seems to me if the basis of your argument for Morris in the HOF was that he pitched deep into a lot of games (and was about avg in those outings) then you have a pretty weak argument.  The summary of our view is that Morris was a pretty good pitcher on very good teams, but really is not a whole lot better than someone like David Wells or Frank Tanana.  And certainly not better than Mike Mussina or Kevin Brown.

Posted in Announcement,, Hall of Fame, Stat Questions, Statgeekery | 95 Comments »

2014 Official Hall of Fame Ballot w/ Stats & JAWS measures

26th November 2013

2014 Official Hall of Fame Ballot w/ Stats & JAWS Measures.

Just a one-stop area for your HOF ballot needs. Thanks to Jay Jaffe of for the use of his JAWS numbers on our site.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, | 14 Comments »

Sports Reference Welcomes David Corby and Hans Van Slooten to Our Staff

7th November 2013

Sports Reference has hired two new web developers/engineers/programmers to their burgeoning staff of now five.

David Corby joined us the last week of October and thus far has been shepherding the NBA and College Basketball sites. (Yes, we did give him a lot of time to get settled.) He is a UVA grad who worked in commercial operations at JetBlue. He's a largely self-taught developer with a wide range of development work. David once played against David Wright in a HS baseball game, and he went 4-4 with 4 doubles (Wright did, that is). He is largely a New York fan -- especially a Yankees fan, which proves we stand by our company policy that we don't discriminate on the basis of sports franchise affinity.

Hans Van Slooten (@cantpitch) will be joining us in December, working out of our newly-established Minneapolis branch, coincidentally located in Hans' home (note we do not offer company tours at this branch). Hans will be working on the hockey site and number of new projects/items from our wish list that we previously haven't had the bandwidth to work on. He joins us from OLSON (where he was a technical director) and, previous to that, comScore. He's a Twins and Vikings fan and will also help me source locally produced lefse and lutefisk for the Sports-Reference Christmas party.

Posted in Announcement,,, CBB at Sports Reference, CFB at Sports Reference, Expire30d,, Olympics at S-R, | 5 Comments »

Stat Questions: What’s Up With Those “vs Starter” Platoon Splits?

18th October 2013

Here's another question I get pretty regularly when answering our bug reports: what's the deal with those "vs LH/RH Starter" platoon splits? To wit:

"How can Reed Johnson hit 32 HR's off of LH Starters when he hit 27 vs LHP?"

At a glance, it seems like we're saying "this is the player's stat line just against the opposing starter, broken down by that starter's handedness." In which case it would seem to be a bug when a guy has bigger totals against, say, lefty starters than against lefties in total.

Except that the definition I just wrote is not at all what that split is measuring. Instead, the "vs LH/RH Starter" split adds up all stats accumulated in games where the opposing starter was of a certain handedness, INCLUDING STATS ACCUMULATED LATER IN THE GAME WHEN THE STARTER IS PULLED, REGARDLESS OF THE RELIEF PITCHER(S)' HANDEDNESS.

Despite bolding, italicizing, and going all-caps, I still don't think I emphasized that enough. I realize the description of the split seems like it's talking only about stats accumulated against the starters, but it's really just counting up all stats in games where the opposing starter threw a certain way -- a BIG difference. If you want to know about performance against just starters of a given handedness... well, that's a double split, so we can't answer that right now. But we do hope to add the capacity for double splits in the future.

Anyway, now you might be saying, OK, well what's the point of that split, then? It seems pretty useless. And in some ways it is, for recent seasons at least -- but it's the only way we can approximate platoon splits for pre-PBP era players (1940s and before). Even going back to 1916, we at least know who started each game and their handedness, which usually is good enough to get platoon data on the majority of PAs (especially before managers started aggressively using relievers).

So that's why that split is there, even if it's not especially useful for 2013 players. And now you know what that split means, even if it seems like it should mean that other thing (which it DOESN'T).

Posted in Announcement,, Stat Questions | 3 Comments »

Grand Slams with 4 Pitchers Receiving Earned Runs

14th October 2013

Last night's Ortiz Grand Slam was the first in the postseason and 8th time in the RetroSheet canon (but probably overall) that four pitchers received earned runs on one play.

| game_id      | result_batter | batting_team_id | pitching_team_id | event_text           | home      | first     | second    | third     |
| BOS201310130 | ortizda01     | BOS             | DET              | HR/9/L9D.3-H;2-H;1-H | benoijo01 | albural01 | smylydr01 | verasjo01 |
| game_id      | result_batter | batting_team_id | pitching_team_id | event_text              | home      | first     | second    | third     |
| MIN196107041 | becquju01     | MIN             | CHW              | HR/9D.3-H;2-H;1-H       | hackewa02 | baumafr01 | kemmeru01 | piercbi02 |
| SEA198208060 | jacksre01     | CAL             | SEA              | HR/9.3-H;2-H;1-H        | vandeed01 | stantmi01 | anderla02 | bannifl01 |
| DET198307100 | parrila02     | DET             | OAK              | HR/7.3-H(UR);2-H;1-H    | jonesje01 | beardda01 | burgmto01 | codirch01 |
| SFN198709200 | esaskni01     | CIN             | SFG              | HR/7D.3-H;2-H;1-H       | perlmjo01 | leffecr01 | downske01 | robindo01 |
| SEA198805060 | sheripa01     | DET             | SEA              | HR/9.3-H;2-H;1-H        | jacksmi02 | solanju01 | powelde01 | mooremi01 |
| SDN200109010 | lankfra01     | SDP             | ARI              | HR/89.3-H;2-H;1-H       | kimby01   | sabeler01 | knotter01 | batismi01 |
| LAN200410020 | finlest01     | LAD             | SFG              | HR/89/F.3-H;2-H(UR);1-H | frankwa01 | hergema01 | chrisja01 | hermadu01 |

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement,, History, Stat Questions, Statgeekery, Trivia | 6 Comments »

Subscribe to the Play Index!

11th October 2013

With the League Championship Series starting tonight, it's time to check out the Baseball-Reference Play Index if you haven't already signed up. What's the Play Index? It's a set of research tools that allow you to create customizable queries on our database, save the results, and share them with others. Using the PI, you can:

  • Search full-season or multi-year totals to find your own custom leaderboards - Look at the entire history of baseball from 1871-2012 with every year, team, and position available, or filter the results in a vast number of ways: by specific years, by age, by first six seasons or last ten seasons, by American League only, by Cubs only, by switch-hitters, by catchers, by outfielder or infielder, by year of debut, but active or retired, by Hall of Famer, by height and weight, by living or deceased, or by a range of common statistical categories. Then sort the results by any common statistic, by the teams with the most players matching that category, by players with the most seasons matching that category, or by most recent, youngest, oldest, final year, or year of debut, and others.
  • Search player game totals - Filtering on any of a dozen or more choices, search for games on a single player level, or on any batter from 1916-2012, or on any pitcher. The same can be done for Team Batting or Team Pitching Totals.
  • Search player games looking for the most consecutive games matching a particular set of criteria - This can be done either on a single player level or on any batter in the last 97 years or on any pitcher. The same can be done for Team Batting or Team Pitching Streaks.
  • Search the records of a specific player - Output a detailed summary and play-by-play list of all events of a specific type from a single year or an entire career. For example, you can see all of Harmon Killebrew's triples or even his outs to the second baseman.
  • Search Batter vs. Pitcher Matchups - This tool presents a complete sortable list of batter or pitcher with totals for every opponent they faced by career or by year. Clicking on the player's name will lead you to a detailed output of their head-to-head plate appearances.
  • ...And more!

Personal Subscriptions to the Play Index still cost just $36 for a year, $6 for a month, or $2 for 24 hours. Subscriptions may only be used by a single user, and there are discounts for users sponsoring at least $35 in pages.

Organizational Subscriptions can be set up for either an unlimited number of users ($600/year), or for up to five users ($125/year).

There are Two Steps to Subscribe to the Play Index:

  1. Login to or create a account (the same account used to sponsor pages).
  2. Already logged in (or just created an account)? Go to our subscription page to sign up.

Our Always-Available Free Trial: Non-subscribers can use the PI's features as much as you like. However, your outputs will be restricted to a limited number of results.

The Play Index comes with a money back guarantee. We will gladly return the unused portion of any Play Index Subscription should you be dissatisfied with the Play Index.

So go ahead, give the Play Index a try -- we're confident that once you start using it, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

Posted in Announcement,, Play Index | Comments Off on Subscribe to the Play Index!

2013 Sim Scores Updated –

30th September 2013

Mike Trout Statistics and History -

Ignoring for the moment there is another game to play tonight, I ran the sim scores this afternoon and uploaded the pages. I'll get around to rerunning them tomorrow, probably for the Rays and Rangers. Here is our explanation of sim scores.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, | 1 Comment »

Trivialities – BA, OBP, SLG on PI Game Finder & New Split

20th September 2013

Batting Game Finder -- -

The batting game finder now has criteria and sort options for BA, SLG and OBP, so you can do things like find out easily how often Ted Williams when 3 for 3 or better (37 times) or how many times Barry Bonds reached base in every PA of a game (no min.) 153 times.

The other things is we will be adding this weekend (should show up Sat. and just for 2013) a split for the player results in PA's where they swung at the first pitch and PA's where they took the first pitch. We'll do it for our historical data when we run the whole shebang at the end of the season.

Posted in Announcement, | 1 Comment »

Gain Superpowers! Watch our Player Page How-to Video.

20th September 2013

Sports Reference Videos - YouTube.

One of the challenges of a site this big and dense is making users aware of what they can do. To accomplish this we are working on a series of how-to videos for various site features. Our first video is an overview of everything you can do from our player pages.
Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Announcement, | Comments Off on Gain Superpowers! Watch our Player Page How-to Video.

OT: Retroactive All-Star Game Project: Vote for the 1916 All-Stars | SABR

17th September 2013

Retroactive All-Star Game Project: Vote for the 1916-1932 All-Stars | SABR.

SABR has a fun little project up where they are collecting fan votes for pre-1933 "All-Star Games". They will then simulate the games and post the results.

Posted in Announcement,, expire21d | 4 Comments »