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The Hall of Fame Hunger Games

Posted by Jonah Gardner on July 24, 2015

Over the course of their Major League careers, Craig Biggio, Randy JohnsonPedro Martinez, and John Smoltz were involved in over 55,000 plate appearances spread over most of three decades. Today, to join in this weekend's festivities, we're going to look at 228 of those -- the rare moments in baseball history where two members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 saw their careers intersect.

Craig Biggio vs John Smoltz

Year PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
1989 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
1990 10 10 6 1 0 0 1 0 1 .600 .600 .700 1.300 0 0 0 0 1
1991 14 12 2 0 0 1 1 2 2 .167 .286 .417 .702 0 0 0 0 0
1992 19 16 3 0 0 0 0 2 5 .188 .316 .188 .503 0 0 0 1 0
1993 11 9 1 0 0 1 2 1 1 .111 .182 .444 .626 0 1 0 0 0
1994 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
1995 12 11 1 0 0 0 1 1 6 .091 .167 .091 .258 0 0 0 0 0
1996 14 14 4 1 0 0 2 0 1 .286 .286 .357 .643 0 0 0 0 0
1997 11 11 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 .273 .273 .273 .545 0 0 0 0 0
1998 10 7 2 0 0 0 0 3 3 .286 .500 .286 .786 0 0 0 0 0
1999 4 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
2002 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
2003 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
2004 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
2005 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Post 1997 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Post 1999 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Post 2004 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Post 2005 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
RegSeason 115 104 27 3 0 2 7 9 26 .260 .322 .346 .668 0 1 0 1 1
with Post 128 117 28 3 0 2 7 9 29 .239 .297 .316 .613 0 1 0 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2015.

 

When John Smoltz and Craig Biggio made their Major League debuts in 1988, the Braves and Astros were still in the same division and both were on the precipice of long runs of relevance. As a result, these two squared off a lot. John Smoltz was Craig Biggio's 2nd most-faced pitcher, behind Greg Maddux, but he was the hitter that Smoltz saw the most of. Unlike Maddux, against whom Biggio battled as evenly as one could reasonably expect to battle Greg Maddux, Smoltz got the slight upper hand. Biggio's OBP was 40 points lower and his batting average was 20 points lower than his career averages, looking at just their regular season matchups. But where Smoltz truly dominated him was in the postseason. In four postseason games and 13 plate appearances, Biggio managed only one hit and no walks. And despite striking out 14% of the time over his career, Biggio was fanned on over 21% of his postseason plate appearances against Smoltz and 22.6% of all plate appearances vs Smoltz in both the regular season and postseason.

It's probably random, but the Braves also happened to win all 4 postseason games where Smoltz pitched against Biggio, including two series clinching victories in 1997 and 1999 (as a Braves fan, I'd rather not get into what ultimately happened in the 2004 or 2005 series). But, because Biggio is still an all-time great, he still managed to inflict some damage on Smoltz.

Craig Biggio vs. Randy Johnson

Year PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
2000 7 5 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 .000 .286 .000 .286 0 0 0 0 0
2001 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
2002 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
RegSeason 16 14 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 .000 .125 .000 .125 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2015.

 

Here we have a more modest, but more clearly one-sided battle. Though Johnson also debuted in the NL in 1988, the Big Unit never pitched to Biggio before being shipped off to Seattle. Johnson retured to the National League in 1998 as Biggio's teammate in Houston, and ultimately wouldn't pitch to him until 2000, Johnson's second year on the Diamondbacks. By that point, Biggio had begun his decline, posting a 1.4 WAR season and hitting a light .268 (he would bounceback in 2001 with a 3.2 WAR season, his only 3+ WAR season in the 21st Century), but 2000 was the only year he managed to have any success at all against Johnson. Johnson, of course, was in the midst of his early 2000s run of complete dominance. Over the 3 years that these 16 plate appearances occured, Randy Johnson was worth 29.1 WAR, pitched 758 1/3 innings, and struck out 1053 batters (including Biggio in 5 of the 16 times he pitched to him). The strikeout totals and WAR are the highest by any pitcher in their age 36-38 seasons in MLB history.

It's a shame that a prime Craig Biggio never got the chance to hit against Randy Johnson, but keep in mind, not only did that they debuted the same year, but Biggio was two years younger. If nothing else, the total one-sidedness of this contest shows just how impressive and rare Randy Johnson's performance in his late-30s was.

Craig Biggio vs. Pedro Martinez

Year PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
1993 5 3 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 .333 .600 .333 .933 0 0 0 0 0
1995 12 10 5 4 0 0 0 2 1 .500 .583 .900 1.483 0 0 0 0 0
1996 9 7 3 1 1 0 2 2 2 .429 .556 .857 1.413 0 0 0 0 0
1997 14 13 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 .231 .286 .308 .593 0 0 0 1 0
2005 7 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
2007 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
RegSeason 50 43 13 6 1 0 2 6 7 .302 .400 .488 .888 0 0 0 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2015.

 

Of course, you don't need me to tell you what was going on in Boston while Randy Johnson was finding the Fountain of Youth in Phoenix. Pedro Martinez never faced Craig Biggio during his electrifying stint in Fenway, but he did pitch to Biggio in three of the four uniforms he wore as a National Leaguer, in what turned out to be a back-and-forth battle. Their first showdowns came when Biggio was entering his prime, while Martinez was just getting started. However, Pedro was still a 3 win pitcher in 1993, and a 4 win pitcher in 95 and 96. It's just that Biggio was out of his mind. Things took a course correction in 1997, Pedro's last year as an Expo and the true start of his era of domination. In 1997, Pedro would post his 2nd best career ERA, his 3rd best career ERA+, and his 2nd highest strikeout total. However, 1997 was also Biggio's best year by WAR (9.4) and OBP (.415). While 1997 is a clear loss for Biggio, it is worth noting that he managed to post just a single strikeout in 14 plate appearances against one of the most dominant strikeout pitchers of all time. In total, Biggio's strikeout rate against Martinez, 14%, was more than 13 points lower than Pedro's career rate of 27.7%.

Biggio's matchups show that even an all time great hitter can be victimized by great pitching and a small sample size. But what about people who are somewhat less talented as hitters? Since all three pitching inductees spent time in the NL, we wanted to see how they fared against each other. Unfortunately, Randy Johnson actually never faced Martinez or Smoltz. But, before moving on, I wanted to show one pitcher we found that he actually kind of owned.

Randy Johnson vs. Adam Eaton

Year PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
2008 4 3 1 1 0 0 3 1 1 .333 .500 .667 1.167 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2015.

 

Yes, for two games in 2008, Randy Johnson posed a question that Adam Eaton simply couldn't answer. In their first matchup, Eaton walked Unit in the bottom of the 4th with the bases loaded. In their second game, Johnson slugged a double deep into LF, scoring two more.

John Smoltz vs. Pedro Martinez

Year PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
1993 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
1994 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0 0
2005 9 9 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 .111 .111 .111 .222 0 0 0 0 0
2006 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 1 0 0 0 0
RegSeason 15 13 2 0 0 0 0 1 7 .154 .214 .154 .368 1 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2015.

 

Now this is what we came here to see: two NL East rivals who went head to head a combined 30 times. Smoltz never even put a ball in play against Pedro when the latter was an Expo, striking out 3 times and walking once. Pedro changed leagues for a while and, upon his return, joined the Mets. In 2005, as Smoltz and Pedro were both making late career All-Star runs (Smoltz at age 38!), the two squared off in 19 plate appearances (counting Pedro's in the chart below) over four games. 2005 was probably the last year Pedro was still dominant, posting games like a 9 strikeout, 1 run complete game masterpiece in Atlanta. Two of the strikeouts came against Smoltz, one of which is actually online in its entirety, albeit in somewhat low quality video. We apologize for that, and for the crimes against batting that you're about to witness.

To be fair to Smoltz, he actually does a decent job of battling back after going down 0-2, but this is what happens when a career .159 hitter faces a pitcher who would finish his career with over 3100 Ks. Speaking of Smoltz's hitting, he finished his career a .159/.226/.207 hitter in over 1100 PAs, meaning his totals against Pedro are actually not as far below his career averages as you might think. Those numbers are helped, though, by the game they played in 2006, when Smoltz scored a sacrifice bunt and a single off of a clearly declining Martinez. Pedro would make an All-Star team again in 2006 and post a 2.57 ERA in 2007, but after 2005, he never posted a WAR above 1.0.

But if Smoltz did about as expected, Pedro did...well, take a look

Pedro Martinez vs. John Smoltz

Year PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
1994 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
2005 10 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
2006 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
RegSeason 15 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 .000 .000 .000 .000 2 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/23/2015.

 

That's right, in 15 plate appearances vs Smoltz, Pedro never reached base. That includes their one matchup in 2006, Smoltz's payback game for 2005, where he struck out 10 batters over 7 innings, including Martinez 3 times. In total, Smoltz is the pitcher that Martinez faced the most as a batter. Of course, the bulk of their matchups came after Martinez's stint in the AL, so is it possible whatever hitting skills he did have simply decayed? Well, in LA and Montreal, he hit .102/.145/.130 in 299 PA and on his return, he was a .107/.127/.124 hitter in 198 PA (as a member of the Red Sox, Pedro actually reached base twice, once on a walk in a 2002 interleague game and again on a walk in the 2004 World Series).

So what did we learn from this, besides the fact that weird things can happen in small sample size and pitchers are bad at hitting? Despite joining the Hall of Fame at the same time, these players very rarely crossed paths at their true peaks. Despite 33 All-Star game appearances between them, only 4 of the matchups (Biggio vs Smoltz in 92, Biggio vs Martinez in 96 and 97, and Smoltz vs Martinez in 05) happened in years when both players all All-Stars. Even for the most talented athletes among us, it seems, true greatness is fleeting.

How We Found This

You can find any batter or pitcher's entire matchup history in the Play Index. Just type their name in the box and select "Batter vs. Pitcher" or "Pitcher vs. Batter". From there, you'll get the history of every matchup for that player.

Comments Off on The Hall of Fame Hunger Games | Posted in Baseball-Reference.com, Hall of Fame, History

2015 MLB Draft Results Posted

Posted by Mike Lynch on June 18, 2015

Just wanted to quickly mention that the results of the 2015 June Draft are now posted to Baseball Reference. You can adjust the various filters at the top of the page to slice and dice draft data. Like all picks by a particular team or all players picked at a specific position.

Comments Off on 2015 MLB Draft Results Posted | Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, Draft

2015 MLB Draft Tools

Posted by Mike Lynch on June 4, 2015

The 2015 MLB Draft begins Monday, June 8, so here are some tools to get you ready:

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

Daily Fantasy Points added to Game Finder, player pages

Posted by Hans Van Slooten on May 14, 2015

We've extended the Daily Fantasy Points to the Play Index Game Finders as well as adding a chart to the player pages showing their DFS points over the current season. These statistics are located towards the far right of the table. DFS (DK) stands for DraftKings points, while DFS (FD) stands for FanDuel points.

Screenshot 2015-05-14 08.32.50

We'd also like to take this opportunity to remind our users that a $15 deposit on a new DraftKings account through this link will come with a free year of Play Index access (normally $36/yr). More details on this offer can be found here.

We hope daily fantasy players enjoy this new feature and would love to hear about any other features you would like to see.

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

Daily Fantasy Points Added to Player Game Logs

Posted by Mike Lynch on April 24, 2015

As some of you may have already noticed, we recently added Daily Fantasy Points to player game logs for the 2013 to 2015 seasons. These statistics are located towards the far right of the table. DFS (DK) stands for DraftKings points, while DFS (FD) stands for FanDuel points.

Additionally, the DFS points have the same summing functionality as the other statistics in the table, so you can calculate a player's performance over a span by clicking on any two rows in the table.

We'd also like to take this opportunity to remind our users that a $15 deposit on a new DraftKings account through this link will come with a free year of Play Index access (normally $36/yr). More details on this offer can be found here.

We hope daily fantasy players enjoy this new feature and would love to hear about any other features you would like to see.

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

Hans van Slooten now Primary Developer for Baseball-Reference.com

Posted by sean on April 10, 2015

I am pleased to announce that Hans van Slooten has taken over day-to-day development of Baseball-Reference.com. Hans has been with Sports Reference for 15 months now and moved over from hockey to baseball last month. Hans is a long-time SABR member and a very talented developer. You are likely to see a bunch of improvements this summer with Hans on the site full-time rather than me on the site half-time. He's also a dedicated Twins fan, so he will not face the unneeded distraction of a deep postseason run by his favorite team. Hans is on twitter at @cantpitch.

I'm not going anywhere. I'm still President of Sports Reference and will certainly be involved in Baseball-Reference.com, just not with day-to-day responsibilities. With six full-time employees, I have a bit more a management role now, and we are also launching a new site this summer and expecting to roll out some changes to all of the sites this summer.

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

Happy Opening Day!

Posted by Hans Van Slooten on April 5, 2015

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.

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

FEATURE: B-R Tonsorial Consulting Service

Posted by sean on April 1, 2015

We have an exciting feature for our users who also happen to be major league ballplayers. The new Baseball-Reference.com TCS® (Tonsorial Consulting Service) can help you decide new directions to take your hair style and/or facial hair without having to take the time to grow the hair first.

12 Comments | Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, expire7d, Features, Statgeekery, Tips and Tricks

Get a Free Baseball-Reference Play Index Trial Through April 15

Posted by Mike Lynch on March 27, 2015

We're offering free access to the Baseball-Reference Play Index through April 15. Just sign up here and use this coupon code: Analytics

The Play Index is the most thorough and powerful publicly available baseball research tool. Subscriptions are normally $36/year. Below is a sampling of some of the search tools:

The Batting or Pitching Season Finder. This tool allows you to search full-season or multi-year totals to find your own custom leaderboards. You can look at the entire history of baseball from 1871-2014 with every year, team, and position available, or you can 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 you can 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.

The Batting or Pitching Game Finder. This tool allows you to search player game totals (think 4 for 5 with 3 RBI, or 10-SO shutouts) filtering on any of a dozen or more choices. This can be done either on a single player level or on any batter from nearly one hundred years or on any pitcher. The same can be done for Team Batting or Team Pitching Totals.

The Batting or Pitching Split Finder. This tool allows you to search player splits (think most road home runs, biggest lefty/righty splits or most hits in Yankee Stadium) filtering on any of a dozen or more choices. This can be done either on a single player level or on any batter from nearly 100 years or on any pitcher. The same can be done for Team Batting or Team Pitching Splits.

The Batting or Pitching Streak Finder. This tool allows you to 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 from nearly sixty years or on any pitcher. The same can be done for Team Batting or Team Pitching Streaks. Note that when searching for batters, you should limit your searches to 20-25 years when searching through all games.

The Batting or Pitching Event Finder. This tool is player specific and will out put 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.

The Batter vs. Pitcher Tool. 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.

19 Comments | Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, expire21d, Features, Play Index

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