Sports Reference Blog

Archive for May, 2012

Subscribe to the Play Index!

31st May 2012

In case you don't already know about Baseball-Reference's 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 1918-2012, 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 95 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,, Features, Play Index | Comments Off on Subscribe to the Play Index!

NFL records after N games

30th May 2012

Tangotiger asked me to do some research for him with regard to predicting end-of-season records from a team's current record. Since it took a little time to put together, I figured I'd post the complete findings here.

The table below is based on every NFL season from 1988-2012 -- it lists every "season start" that a team had over that span (i.e., 4-1 through 5 games, etc.), and the average end-of-season winning percentage (counting ties as half-wins) for teams that started that way. I also showed the number of wins per 16 games to make it a little more understandable than a raw winning percentage.


Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Announcement, Data, General, | 4 Comments »

Advanced Game Logs

24th May 2012

Want to know each player's advanced stats for every game they've played? Check out our "Advanced Game Logs" feature.

Start by going to a player's game log page. You're currently viewing his basic game log, but click the red text for "Switch to Advanced Game Log"... There you'll see all of his relevant advanced numbers, like Usage Rate, Offensive Rating, Assist Percentage, and more. (You can do this for regular-season and playoff games.)

Here's a sample:

Rk G Date Age Tm Opp GS MP TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg
1 1 2009-04-18 24-109 CLE DET W 1 40:52 .726 .675 0.0 25.4 14.5 37.8 1.5 0.0 0.0 35.8 155 106
2 2 2009-04-21 24-112 CLE DET W 1 37:55 .675 .571 3.3 39.0 21.4 39.7 0.0 0.0 8.5 30.0 140 93
3 3 2009-04-24 24-115 CLE @ DET W 1 42:44 .524 .474 5.2 26.6 15.3 56.5 4.0 3.8 7.7 30.5 112 73
4 4 2009-04-26 24-117 CLE @ DET W 1 40:39 .572 .417 3.6 37.3 21.6 40.7 2.8 1.7 6.0 42.3 130 87
5 5 2009-05-05 24-126 CLE ATL W 1 34:19 .710 .650 10.0 30.6 18.9 20.8 7.0 0.0 11.1 39.1 139 80
6 6 2009-05-07 24-128 CLE ATL W 1 31:10 .700 .750 0.0 9.1 6.0 31.9 7.2 2.4 0.0 29.3 156 90
7 7 2009-05-09 24-130 CLE @ ATL W 1 43:14 .733 .700 7.9 27.1 19.3 48.4 1.4 1.9 3.0 39.5 169 100
8 8 2009-05-11 24-132 CLE @ ATL W 1 43:25 .520 .477 0.0 21.1 10.9 44.1 1.4 0.0 10.4 33.2 116 92
9 9 2009-05-20 24-141 CLE ORL L 1 41:14 .712 .717 9.7 10.6 10.1 47.2 2.6 6.0 5.5 42.2 143 117
10 10 2009-05-22 24-143 CLE ORL W 1 42:32 .619 .543 7.3 6.1 6.6 26.3 1.3 0.0 17.5 38.5 113 113
11 11 2009-05-24 24-145 CLE @ ORL L 1 41:57 .532 .411 0.0 20.5 9.8 62.7 2.5 2.5 4.9 42.8 117 105
12 12 2009-05-26 24-147 CLE @ ORL L 1 49:24 .596 .517 2.6 31.9 16.5 30.0 1.0 2.6 17.8 42.0 106 113
13 13 2009-05-28 24-149 CLE ORL W 1 45:30 .572 .458 8.3 29.8 19.2 48.0 1.1 2.2 11.0 37.3 124 108
14 14 2009-05-30 24-151 CLE @ ORL L 1 44:53 .503 .450 2.4 17.3 9.2 28.3 0.0 2.1 10.8 30.2 104 120
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/24/2012.


Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement,, Features | 8 Comments »

Cool Play Index Event Finder Tricks

23rd May 2012

The Event Finders are an underrated set of Play Index tools:

Batting by Team / Pitching by Team
All-Star Batting / All-Star Pitching
Postseason Batting / Postseason Pitching

You might know that they allow you to search for individual plays matching certain criteria, but there are some tricks that even experienced PI users aren't aware of.

For instance, say I wanted to find the all-time career leaders in HR at Chase Field. You could get that using the Game Finder:

1 Luis Gonzalez 87 Ind. Games 394 341 150 18 0 95 177 44 40 .440 .501 1.328 1.830 1 5 7 3 9
2 Steve Finley 75 Ind. Games 321 279 140 15 5 84 163 36 28 .502 .558 1.495 2.052 0 3 6 3 3
3 Chris Young 63 Ind. Games 282 255 101 12 0 67 114 23 52 .396 .445 1.231 1.676 1 2 2 1 3
4 Mark Reynolds 55 Ind. Games 230 203 97 11 2 60 114 25 54 .478 .539 1.438 1.978 0 0 2 2 2
5 Justin Upton 56 Ind. Games 243 216 108 12 3 57 108 21 38 .500 .539 1.375 1.914 0 4 2 2 2
6 Matt Williams 46 Ind. Games 207 193 86 8 1 48 94 13 23 .446 .478 1.244 1.722 0 1 3 0 2
7 Jay Bell 45 Ind. Games 207 178 89 10 3 47 93 23 25 .500 .559 1.382 1.941 3 1 0 2 1
8 Tony Clark 38 Ind. Games 142 129 65 4 2 43 73 13 26 .504 .549 1.566 2.115 0 0 5 0 1
9 Chad Tracy 41 Ind. Games 166 146 70 7 1 42 82 14 17 .479 .521 1.404 1.925 1 3 2 2 4
10 Shawn Green 29 Ind. Games 126 114 56 7 0 33 70 9 17 .491 .524 1.421 1.945 0 2 1 1 5
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/23/2012.

But you can also get that using the Event Finder, searching for HR by all teams from 1998-2012 at Chase Field:

Luis Gonzalez	95
Steve Finley	84
Chris Young	67
Mark Reynolds	60
Justin Upton	57
Matt Williams	48
Jay Bell	47
Tony Clark	43
Chad Tracy	42
Shawn Green	33

And unlike the Game Finder method, you can also break it down into HR against lefties and righties:

vs RHP
Luis Gonzalez	74
Steve Finley	56
Chris Young	52
Mark Reynolds	44
Justin Upton	39
Jay Bell	36
Chad Tracy	36
Tony Clark	33
Matt Williams	27
Stephen Drew	24

vs LHP
Steve Finley	28
Luis Gonzalez	21
Matt Williams	21
Justin Upton	18
Mark Reynolds	16
Chris Young	15
Shawn Green	13
Junior Spivey	12
Eric Byrnes	12
Conor Jackson	11

Basically, you can split out the stats based on any of the red text items you see in the box on the page, including hit locations, bases occupied, score margin, and a lot more.

You can even get a composite stat line for all of the plays, so you can use this to find incredibly obscure splits like what left-handed DHs have hit in high-leverage situations at Jacobs Field over the past 3 seasons:

263 59 14 0 11 28 0.260 0.342 0.467 0.809

Remember, you can do thins not only with teams in the regular season, but also the postseason, the All-Star Game, and for individual players as well.

Posted in Announcement,, Features, Play Index | 4 Comments »

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Approximate Value

22nd May 2012

We get a lot of questions about our Approximate Value system, so I thought it might be a good idea to re-run this explanatory post from December 2010...

Created by PFR founder Doug Drinen, the Approximate Value (AV) method is an attempt to put a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year (since 1950). The following links will help explain the theory behind the AV system:

Introductory Blog Posts:

  • Part I - this is where Doug explained, in very broad general terms, what his goal was in creating this metric, and what his strategy would be for building it.
  • Part II - this is where Doug explained, in fairly gruesome detail, how the system works for offensive players.
  • Parts III and IV were posted while Doug was fine-tuning the system for defensive players. He invited readers to give opinions on the results.
  • Here are a couple of examples of uses for the method. Studies like these would be hard to do without an AV-like method.

Doug's Brief AV Explanation:

"AV is not meant to be a be-all end-all metric. Football stat lines just do not come close to capturing all the contributions of a player the way they do in baseball and basketball. If one player is a 16 and another is a 14, we can't be very confident that the 16AV player actually had a better season than the 14AV player. But I am pretty confident that the collection of all players with 16AV played better, as an entire group, than the collection of all players with 14AV."

"Essentially, AV is a substitute for --- and a significant improvement upon, in my opinion --- metrics like 'number of seasons as a starter' or 'number of times making the pro bowl' or the like. You should think of it as being essentially like those two metrics, but with interpolation in between. That is, 'number of seasons as a starter' is a reasonable starting point if you're trying to measure, say, how good a particular draft class is, or what kind of player you can expect to get with the #13 pick in the draft. But obviously some starters are better than others. Starters on good teams are, as a group, better than starters on bad teams. Starting WRs who had lots of receiving yards are, as a group, better than starting WRs who did not have many receiving yards. Starters who made the pro bowl are, as a group, better than starters who didn't, and so on. And non-starters aren't worthless, so they get some points too."

Weighted Career Approximate Value

At the top of every player's PFR page, you will see "Weighted Career AV" and a ranking since 1950. This is Doug's way of balancing peak production against raw career totals; for each player, he computes the following weighted sum of seasonal AV scores:

100% of the player's best season, plus 95% of his 2nd-best season, plus 90% of his 3rd-best season, plus 85% of his 4th-best season, ....

And so on. You can read a more detailed explanation of this metric here.

(Note: "Weighted Career AV" should not be confused with "career AV", which is just the unweighted sum of a player's AV scores.)

Similar Players by AV

On a player's page, you may see a table marked "Similar Players". This uses a method Doug invented to find other players who were similar in terms of the quality and shape of their AV career arcs. You can read more about this process here and here.

Where to Find AV on the Site:

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Features, | 4 Comments »

Track AL Domination of NL on the B-R Front Page

21st May 2012

Over the past few years the AL has really mopped up on the NL during interleague play. With the first weekend of interleague play in the books, you can now view the two leagues head-to-head record on the front page of (as of today AL is up 23-16, a 95 win pace for a 162 game season). It appears just below the game results on the front page in the middle column.

Posted in Announcement, | 1 Comment »

The Lengths Researchers Go To

18th May 2012

The following is a report from Richard Malatzky a stalwhart researcher with the SABR biographical committee. There are about 5-10 people on the SABR biographical committee who tirelessly do research to locate late 1800's early 1900's ballplayers. They pore over all kinds of records for no pay to get these records right. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

With the eventual release of Pennsylvania Deaths Register last month I thought I might find Morelock (ed. for the last 12 years, we've just called him Morelock) but it didn't happen.

I had been searching for him for about 35 years. It turns out that Philadelphia which is where he was from had several Morlocks but no Morelocks, not a one.

The Sporting Life mostly called him Morelock but Morlock did appear a couple of times.

(In the census) There was a Henry or Harry Morlock born November 1869 in Philadelphia and he was a weaver. I figured that this must be him. But what about A Harry? I saw him called A H Morelock a couple of times in Sporting Life. His father was Adam and son was Harry A.

He played several years around Philadelphia and appeared with the Phillies in 1891 and 1892.

Harry was in the census in Philadelphia up to 1930 and appeared in the Suburban phone book in Upper Darby Pa after 1940.

I searched his daughter's name Lillian and surprisingly found her obituary age 106. Lillian G Rathburn. I searched her name and surprisingly found a legal document from Atlantic City NJ that gave her father's date of death April 21 1949 and place Atlantic City. All of his relatives were listed and combined with Lillian's obit I was able to find the addresses of some relatives.

I found that the only newspaper available for an obit in Atlantic City was the AC Press. On a visit to AC, I searched the microfilm and no obit.

Today, I received an e-mail from a great great grandson of Harry who confirmed that this was the ballplayer. He has a picture of him in uniform.

Richard Malatzky

Biographical Committee

Posted in Announcement, | 3 Comments »

1984-85 NBA Box Scores

18th May 2012

As many of you know, about four months ago we announced that we had posted copies of every box score in NBA history. However, since these box scores were scans we could not create player game logs, compute player splits, etc. As we said in that post, it is our goal to one day have all of these games in a database-friendly format.

Well, I'm happy to announce that the work for the 1984-85 regular season has been completed. Please take some time to check out the box scores, player and team game logs, and player and team splits for the 1984-85 NBA season. Keep in mind that almost all of the scanned box scores are abbreviated (i.e., they only contain field goals, free throws, and points for the players), so there will be many missing values for each game.

Posted in Announcement, | 5 Comments »

Happy Belated Birthday to

15th May 2012

Somehow I let this slip by without notice, but last Thursday celebrated its 8th birthday. I launched BBR as a standalone site on May 10, 2004, but of course it is now part of the family. I still do almost all of the work on the site, so I take great pride in how much it has grown over the years. That growth, of course, would not be possible without our dedicated users, so in addition to the birthday wishes I would also like to extend a warm thank you to everyone who has played a part in making this site what it is today.

Posted in Announcement, | 9 Comments »

NY Times: The Numbers Are Adding Up for the Thunder

14th May 2012

Here's a link to a piece I wrote for the print edition of Sunday's New York Times:

The Numbers Are Adding Up for the Thunder

Posted in Announcement,, New York Times | Comments Off on NY Times: The Numbers Are Adding Up for the Thunder