Sports Reference Blog

Kevin Garnett vs the Trade Voltron

Posted by Jonah Gardner on July 31, 2015

Today is the 8th anniversary of the Kevin Garnett trade. Of course, there have now been 3 Kevin Garnett trades, but you know the one I'm talking about. In 2007, the Minnesota Timberwolves changed NBA history by sending KG to Boston in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, and the picks that would be come Wayne Ellington and Jonny Flynn.

As you know, that trade went much better for Boston and KG than it did for the Timberwolves, who haven't been to the playoffs since. It's easy to criticize this trade, but Minnesota was in a difficult position for two reasons. First, Kevin Garnett is a once-in-a-generation talent, so almost no trade could have brought back a fair return. And, second, they couldn't build a Voltron out of the players they received in the trade.

While there's nothing we can do about the former, we decided to celebrate the anniversary of the trade by doing the latter. I give you, the Kevin Garnett Trade Voltron: Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Basketball-Reference.com, Ridiculousness, Statgeekery | 1 Comment »

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.

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

Get Ready for the 2015 NBA Draft

Posted by Mike Lynch on June 23, 2015

The 2015 NBA Draft will take place Thursday night, June 25. Here's some draft info you should check out before, during & after the draft:

And don't forget to read up on some recent draft-related additions to the Play Index.

Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, Draft | Comments Off on Get Ready for the 2015 NBA Draft

Enhancements to Hockey Reference Player Game Finder

Posted by Mike Lynch on June 19, 2015

We're excited to introduce a couple of fantastic enhancements to the Hockey Reference Player Game Finder. This tool allows you to search through game-level player stats for every NHL game since 1987-88.

The huge addition is the option to search by cumulative games, which allows you to search for statistics over a specific span of games. Use this option by selecting "Search for Cumulative Games" in the yellow section directly below "Search Form." This tool opens up capabilities to do informative searches never before possible on Hockey Reference. Here are some examples to give you the gist:

You'll also notice that we've added an option to search for games on a player's birthday. So you can now search for things like birthday Hat Tricks.

Or you can even combine these new features and find the players with the most career birthday goals or the most career playoff birthday goals.

Posted in Announcement, Data, Features, Hockey-Reference.com, Play Index | 2 Comments »

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.

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

NBA Draft-related Additions to Basketball Reference Play Index

Posted by Mike Lynch on June 18, 2015

With the NBA Draft a week away, we wanted to briefly introduce some subtle, but useful additions to the Play Index.

First up, is a tweak to the Player Season Finder, which now allows for customized statistical searches by player draft year. You'll notice there's now a filter for BAA/NBA Draft Year. Utilizing this, you can now search for things such as:

Additionally, we have made some enhancements to the Draft Finder. The biggest change is that you can now filter by the draftees' NBA/BAA position (please note that we don't have positions in the DB for many drafted players who never went on to play in the league). But, for instance, here are centers drafted in 2014. Additionally, you'll notice that player ages on draft day and birth country now display in the results. Again, this data is unavailable for many players who never played in the league.

We hope you find these new tools useful.

Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, Draft, History, Play Index | 1 Comment »

Introducing the NHL Draft Finder

Posted by Mike Lynch on June 18, 2015

With the 2015 NHL Draft coming up on June 26 & 27, we're happy to introduce a new tool to the Hockey Reference Play Index: The Draft Finder. Fans of our sites will find that this tool is similar to the ones found on Basketball Reference & Pro Football Reference.

With this tool, users can search through every NHL draft pick since 1963, utilizing a variety of filters and sorts. Users can set a custom range of years and specify things like position, team, birth country, round of selection, overall pick number and whether or not the player selected went on to play in the NHL.

Additionally, users can apply filters for what amateur program a player came from (whether this was the amateur team he was with at the time of the draft, or after the draft).

Here's a few sample searches for concrete examples of what the Draft Finder can do. However, you'll find this is merely the tip of the iceberg and we'd love it if you explore the options and let us know what you think.

We hope you enjoy this new feature.

Posted in Announcement, Data, Draft, Features, History, Hockey-Reference.com, Play Index | Comments Off on Introducing the NHL Draft Finder

Hockey Reference Adds Amateur Alumni Info

Posted by Mike Lynch on June 9, 2015

Hockey-reference.com has added a section called "Amateurs," that contains information on Amateur Teams with alumni in the NHL.

The landing page for "Amateurs" shows all NCAA, Major Junior and Canadian College (CIS) teams with an alumnus who played in the NHL. Clicking on those teams will show a list of all alumni, and their career NHL stats.

For example, the major teams with the most alumni in the NHL are the Kitchener Rangers and Peterborough Petes. The NCAA teams with the most are Minnesota and Michigan.

In addition, each player page now displays which amateur teams that player played for, hyper-linked to that team page showing all of its alumni.

Please keep your eyes peeled for further updates built off of this data.

Posted in Announcement, Data, Features, History, Hockey-Reference.com | Comments Off on Hockey Reference Adds Amateur Alumni Info

Hockey Reference Adds Captains Index & Pages

Posted by Mike Lynch on June 8, 2015

Hockey-reference.com has added a tab to each season page, showing the list of captains for each team.

In addition, the captain is now indicated in each team's roster, for any season, with a "C" next to their name.

The current list of all captains can be found here.

The captains for any particular season can be found, for example, here. To see a different season of captains, just change the year in the URL or use the next/previous seasons links on the page.

Each franchise also has a page which shows their all-time captains. For example, the Chicago Blackhawks' is here.

We've long had this info, but we hope these tweaks and additional pages make this info easier to access.

Posted in Announcement, Features, History, Hockey-Reference.com | Comments Off on Hockey Reference Adds Captains Index & Pages

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:

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