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2016 Spira Award Winner Announced

27th April 2016

The results have been announced for the Fourth Annual Greg Spira Award, which is given annually in recognition of the best published article, paper, or book containing original baseball research by a person 30 years old or younger.

This year's winner is Jeff Long, for his piece "Every Player in Its Right Place" for Baseball Prospectus (follow the link to read the winning submission).

Long’s winning piece featured the comparison of players using proprietary information through an arrangement with Ayasdi, an analytics company that uses machine intelligence software to analyze data sets. Looking at all 311 players with at least 250 plate appearances in 2014, Long analyzed the resulting topological maps, providing a new look at “the old ballgame,” those who play it at the highest level, and how many have more similar skill sets than would otherwise.

Second Prize went to Jon Feyen for "Analytics: The New Currency of Major League Baseball," the capstone project in his Sports Management graduate degree program at Cardinal Stritch University in Fox Point, Wisconsin.

Third Prize was awarded to Ben Diamond for "What is the Success Rate of Shoulder Surgery." At 18 years of age, Diamond is the youngest person to receive a prize in this competition.

The award is named after Greg Spira, a longtime member of the Society for American Baseball Research, who was the founder of the annual Internet Baseball Awards (IBA) in 1991. A graduate of Harvard University, Spira was also an early adopter and a pioneer in using the Internet to advance baseball analysis, particularly via Usenet’s groundbreaking rec.sport.baseball group and via BaseballProspectus.com.

Spira later contributed to many sports books as a researcher, writer, and editor, including the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, the ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia, Total Baseball, and annual periodicals about the Mets. A lifelong and passionate Mets fan, Spira passed away on December 28, 2011 in his native New York City.

For remembrances of and more information about Greg, visit GregSpira.com. For more information about the award, visit SpiraAward.org. Thanks to everyone who submitted a piece in the 2016 competition and congratulations to all three prize winners!

Posted in Academics, Announcement, Awards, Baseball-Reference.com | Comments Off on 2016 Spira Award Winner Announced

The Bullpen/SABRpedia Now Has Over 80,000 Pages

13th April 2016

On behalf of the entire Baseball-Reference team, we want to congratulate the users who contribute to The B-R Bullpen/SABR Encyclopedia! Thanks to your hard work, the encyclopedia now has over 80,000 pages.

If you've never made it over to that part of the site, the Bullpen is a wiki where users collaborate to contribute articles with information on baseball players, teams, events, games, and other nuggets from the vast history of the game. The Bullpen was started in 2005, and in 2014 it merged with the SABRpedia. You can think of it as a baseball-centric Wikipedia

Now's a great time to take a look at all the amazing content. From write-ups of notable events in baseball history from every day of the year, to amazing details about foreign greats, to the unheralded stories of modern independent leagues, there's a deep and vast range of information from all corners of the world of baseball. If you want to join the fun, you can also become a contributor. Learn more about how to contribute here.

So check it out! Just don't blame me if you suddenly find you've lost 2-3 hours exploring some forgotten corner of baseball history.

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com | 1 Comment »

Happy Opening Day 2016!

3rd April 2016

It's been a long winter in Philadelphia (and in Minnesota). In honor of Sunday and Monday, the greatest days of the year, here are some Opening Day features we have here at B-R:

Give them a try, and enjoy baseball's return.

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com | 3 Comments »

MLB’s 11 Best Opening Day Starters

31st March 2016

For most sports, their biggest day is the final one. While the NFL, NBA, and NHL all schedule marquee games for their season opener, the event itself pales in comparison to the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, or the Stanley Cup Finals. But baseball is somewhat different. While the World Series is obviously a huge event, Opening Day is, in and of itself, nearly as big a deal. Put it this way: the 2013 petition to make Opening Day a national holiday had over 100,000 signatures. Wikipedia's article about the first day of baseball season is just titled Opening Day. There's no need to clarify which sport we're talking about.

One of the best parts of Opening Day is the pageantry and build-up surrounding the selection of the Opening Day starter. In many ways, the choice of who gets the ball on Opening Day says a lot about where a team's mindset is at heading into the season. It's acknowledged as an honor, but not one that automatically goes to, on paper anyway, the "best" pitcher. For example, here's the 30 pitchers who started their team's opener last year: Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com | Comments Off on MLB’s 11 Best Opening Day Starters

Try the Play Index for FREE Through April 15

28th March 2016

Baseball season is here and to celebrate, you can use the Play Index for free through April 15! Just go to this page, sign up, and use this coupon code: analytics

The Play Index is our name for the various tools we've built that allow you to search the hundreds of thousands of players, seasons, teams, box scores, and even plate appearances collected in our database. Of all the research methods that we offer, none is more powerful than the Play Index. Have you ever wanted to know the answer to questions like:

What hitter had the most 40 HR seasons?

Which Mets pitcher had the most strikeouts in a road game?

What team had the most 2-out RBIs in a season?

What was the best WAR in a season by a pitcher with 15 Ws or under

And that's just scratching the surface. You can search full seasons since 1871 and individual games and streaks since 1913. You can also search for splits, individual events like inside the park HRs, pitcher vs batter matchups, and much more. The Play Index is the secret weapon of journalists, bloggers, front offices, fantasy experts, historians, and more.

It's normally just $36/year, but to celebrate the start of the 2016 MLB season, we're letting you try it out for free! Go to the sign-up page and enter the coupon code "analytics" to use the Play Index for free through April 15.

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Play Index | 3 Comments »

New Box Scores and Play-By-Plays Added to Baseball Reference

1st March 2016

Thanks to the efforts of our friends at Retrosheet, we have added box scores for the 1913 MLB season to Baseball Reference. Additionally, we have added play-by-play for games as far back as 1930. Before this update, our oldest play-by-plays went back to 1938. In addition to the boxes and PBPs themselves, this update allows for a variety of new information searchable in the play index, as well as new rows of information in team/player/league statistics tables.

Here's a quick breakdown of the data coverage for the Play-By-Plays we've added from 1930 to 1937:

  • 1930 - 77% of games
  • 1931 - 82% of games
  • 1932 - 75% of games
  • 1933 - 81% of games
  • 1934 - 72% of games
  • 1935 - 71% of games
  • 1936 - 65% of games
  • 1937 - 82% of games

And here are some examples of some of the new information/searches available on the site:

We're very excited about these new additions and hope you enjoy them, as well. Please let us know if you have any comments, questions or concerns.

And thanks again to Retrosheet!

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, History, Play Index, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Explaining our Handling of “Holds”

24th February 2016

UPDATE (Feb. 25, 2016): MLB has informed us that they will be updating Brach's 2015 holds total to 15 (matching us). MLB's Cory Schwartz commented: "We do credit Holds whenever the pitcher enters in a Save situation and leaves with the lead intact, so this was an oversight on our part."

It recently came to our attention that for the 2015 season, we credited Brad Brach with 15 holds. MLB, meanwhile, credited Brach with just 14 holds (NOTE: After reading this post, MLB has agreed that 15 is the correct number of holds for Brach in 2015). It was discovered that the difference was in the handling of the Orioles 5-4 win over the Mariners on May 21. Before we jump into the details, let's examine MLB's definition of a hold (bolding is ours, for emphasis):

"The hold is not an official statistic, but it was created as a way to credit middle relief pitchers for a job well done. Starting pitchers get wins, and closers -- the relief pitchers who come in at the end of the game -- get saves, but the guys who pitch in between the two rarely get either statistic. So what's the most important thing one of these middle relievers can do? "Hold" a lead. If a reliever comes into a game to protect a lead, gets at least one out and leaves without giving up that lead, he gets a hold. But you can't get a save and a hold at the same time."

UPDATE (Feb. 26, 2016): Please see MLB's updated Holds definition here

As you can see, this isn't really much of a definition at all. There's little in the way of criteria here, and it's also pointed out that the statistic isn't even official, anyways. In fact, there's enough confusion that MLB.com credits Cory Rasmus with 2 holds in 2015, but Elias (MLB's official statistician) credits him with 1 hold in 2015. We credit him with 2, for what it's worth. This "definition" provides enough room for interpretation that variance in recorded totals is not uncommon.

Being that the statistic is unofficial, explaining all of this might be a pointless exercise, but in an effort to be transparent, we at least want to point out what standard we are using to assign holds.

Our standard is to give a pitcher a hold any time they protect a lead in a save situation (meaning they could have been eligible for a save if they finished the game). Brach presents an interesting study in that May 21 game. Starter Chris Tillman pitched 3 innings and left with a 4-1 lead. Obviously, he was not eligible for the win due to Rule 10.17(b), as he did not complete 5 innings. Tillman was relieved by Brian Matusz, who allowed 2 runs in the 4th, but completed the inning of work and left the game leading 4-3, when Brach took the mound for the 5th inning. Brach completed 2 scoreless innings, but the Mariners tied it up in the 7th after Brach left the game. The Orioles eventually won the game.

With the benefit of hindsight, you could say that Brach would have been in line for the win (not the save) if he had finished the game, since he ended up being more "effective" than Matusz, which would make it nearly a lock that the official scorer would have given him the win. But, hypothetically, Brach could have given up 20 runs in relief, but maintained the lead, and earned the save (with Matusz getting the win). As unlikely as that scenario is, the point here is that we're not using hindsight in assigning holds. In our opinion, the opportunity for a hold is defined when you enter the game and is only removed retroactively if you are given the win.

To be as clear as possible: our policy is to credit a hold when a pitcher enters the game in a save situation and leaves with the lead (and is not later given the win by the official scorer).

As we bolded in MLB's definition of a hold, "If a reliever comes into a game to protect a lead, gets at least one out and leaves without giving up that lead, he gets a hold." It would sure seem to us that Brach's May 21st appearance fits that criteria.

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, FAQ, Ridiculousness, Stat Questions, Statgeekery | 10 Comments »

Call For Submissions for the 2016 Spira Award

21st January 2016

Did you write or read an excellent story, research paper, or book about baseball in 2015? If so, the window is open to submit that piece for consideration for this year's Greg Spira Baseball Research Award! Click this link to submit a piece for consideration.

The nomination period opened today, January 21, and will run through March 6. Any piece containing original analysis or research that was published between January 16, 2015 and January 15, 2016 is eligible to be nominated. Articles, papers, and books eligible for consideration include those published in print or in e-books, those published or posted on the Web, academic papers or dissertations, and papers presented at professional or public conferences. Winning entries must display innovative analysis or reasoning by an author who was 30 years old or younger at the time of the entry’s publication.

Anyone is free to nominate a qualifying piece for the Spira, and authors may self-nominate, but note that only one entry per author will be considered. The winner of the Spira Award will receive a cash prize of $1,000, with additional awards of $200 for second place and $100 for third place.

For more information on the Greg Spira Baseball Research Award, go to SpiraAward.org.

 

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com | Comments Off on Call For Submissions for the 2016 Spira Award

Tricks You Didn’t Know about Sports Reference: Domain Names

13th January 2016

Today, we finalized the purchase of basketballreference.com from the folks at Rotowire (thanks guys!). This really doesn't do much for you as an end user, but I thought I'd also mention that there are some domain name tricks that can help you.

The main one is that each site has a shortened url of 5-6 characters that can save some typing on your end. This is especially useful on your phones.

bbref.com => baseball-reference.com
bkref.com => basketball-reference.com
hkref.com => hockey-reference.com
pfref.com => pro-football-reference.com
cfbref.com => sports-reference.com/cfb
cbbref.com => sports-reference.com/cbb
olyref.com => sports-reference.com/olympics

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Basketball-Reference.com, CBB at Sports Reference, CFB at Sports Reference, Olympics at S-R, Pro-Football-Reference.com | 1 Comment »

See How Many Baseball Players are Older/Younger Than You

22nd October 2015

It's a universal sports fan moment: the first time you realize that you're older than the player you're watching. Of course, as time goes on, the ratio flips. Eventually, its more of a surprise when you realize a player is older than you are. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, our newest tool will almost certainly make you feel old.

We've added a page that shows players born before and after whatever date you pick. You can also see their WAR and, thanks to the numbers in the left-most column, how many players in MLB were born before or after that date. For example: Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com | 10 Comments »