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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,, Data, History, Leaders, Uncategorized

Free Baseball-Reference Play Index Access Through July 20th

Posted by Mike Lynch on July 15, 2014

To celebrate All-Star week, we are offering free access to Baseball-Reference's Play Index through July 20th. If you've been curious about purchasing access, but wanted to give the service a trial run first, this is a perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself. Just follow this link and in the coupon code field enter: ASG

Comments Off on Free Baseball-Reference Play Index Access Through July 20th | Posted in Uncategorized

Roster Status Added to 2014 Team Pages –

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 -

2 Comments | Posted in Announcement,, Uncategorized

Search for Walkoff Wins/Loss in Game Finders –

Posted by sean on May 23, 2014

I'm not sure why it took me 8 years to do this, but you can now search for walkoffs in the game finder play index tools.

Using the game finder you can find all of the walkoff wins and losses for your team. Using the controls at the top you can even see who's had the most walkoff wins or losses in a season. Please keep in mind that this is 100% complete back to 1974 and then will get progressively less complete back to 1940, though still pretty good. You can always check our coverage page to figure out what might be missing. When searching for walkoffs, we will also print out the type of play and the batter and pitcher involved, since we know that's what you want to see.

Screenshot 2014-05-23 16.51.01

6 Comments | Posted in Announcement,, Play Index, Statgeekery, Uncategorized

Pitchers in the Field and At the Plate added to Batting Game Finder–

Posted by admin on May 21, 2014

Folks seemed to like the hitter's pitching option, so I've added a pitcher's in the field option. Check the box shown below and then click the set of positions you want above to see an output. For instance, get a list of PH home runs by pitchers.

Screenshot 2014-05-21 17.04.12

Batting Game Finder -- -

Time to complete: 5 minutes

1 Comment | Posted in Announcement,, Play Index, Uncategorized

Tooltip for Blown Saves, Holds on Main Pitching Table

Posted by admin on May 6, 2014

The pitching table is getting pretty wide on the team and player pages, so we've added a new little twist to our player pages (soon to be on team and league pages) where if you hold your mouse over the save column for a pitcher a little box pops up and it will show you the blown saves, save opps, save situations and holds for that pitcher. See the screenshot below.

Screenshot 2014-05-06 16.52.18

This data is already on the "More Stats" page linked just above the pitcher's primary stats, but not everyone makes it onto those pages.

test on Mariano Rivera Page

4 Comments | Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement,, Uncategorized

Age Relative to League Added to Minors Player Pages –

Posted by sean on April 15, 2014

Example: Jesse Biddle Minor League Statistics & History -

We've had the league ages available for a long time now, but a user feature request pointed out to me that it would be useful to have this on the actual player pages as age is probably a prospect's most important stat.

You'll see the difference between their age and the league avg right next to the column with their age.

Screenshot 2014-04-15 14.53.24

4 Comments | Posted in Announcement,, Uncategorized

BBR Feature Add: Practice Shot Charts

Posted by sean on April 1, 2014

Practice Shot Charts. has really upped the level of detail they've added, so we're trying to respond with the latest and greatest data we can get. We've recently come to an agreement with a number of franchises for access to their practice film and have begun breaking down scrimmage data.

Practice shot charts seem to us the next frontier in basketball analytics. This data will show you who's improving, who isn't, and who is working on new aspects of their game. It's especially useful for players without a lot of playing time.

Before we roll it out sidewide, we've prepared some sample charts.

3 Comments | Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement,, expire10d, Most Wanted, Stat Questions, Statgeekery, Uncategorized

Mike Lynch Joins Sports Reference

Posted by sean on March 31, 2014

Mike Lynch has joined Sports Reference as our new User Affairs Coordinator. Mike is a Philly native and Boston U. grad. He has an extensive background in sports history and studio production research working for ESPN as the lead researcher for NBA Tonight, for the Big Ten Network, and most recently for Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Mike is on twitter at @SportInfo247.

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

Shooting Tables on Team Pages

Posted by David Corby on March 24, 2014

Last month we introduced shooting tables on the player pages. Just a note that we added these to our team pages last week, as well.

Here you can admire all of the Clippers that know what to do with the ball when they're near the basket...





Comments Off on Shooting Tables on Team Pages | Posted in Uncategorized

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