Sports Reference Blog

Archive for March, 2019

2019 WAR Update

21st March 2019

As we approach the beginning of the 2019 season, we have made some updates to our Wins Above Replacement calculations.  You may notice some small changes to figures as you browse the site. As always, you can find full details on how we calculate WAR here.

Openers

Last season, the Tampa Bay Rays popularized the concept of the opener, where the first pitcher of the game is expected to pitch considerably less than a typical starting pitcher.  The opener is followed by a “headliner” or “bulk guy,” who enters the game after the opener but takes on responsibilities similar to a traditional starting pitcher. The Rays found success with this approach, and several other teams followed suit.

Our Wins Above Replacement calculation treats starting pitchers and relief pitchers differently, since relief pitchers have much lower ERAs than starters.  The opener strategy throws a wrinkle into this, since the opener is not expected to go deep into the game and the headliner is, so we have a starting pitcher who is behaving more like a relief pitcher and vice versa.

Tom Tango posted some thoughts on this last year, and the discussion in the comments of that post produced a working definition for the opener:

  1. Determine if we have an opener.  This pitcher must start the game and have either at most 2 innings pitched (6 outs), or at most 9 batters faced.
  2. Determine if we have a headliner. This pitcher must meet two criteria:
  3. Length of appearanceAt least 4 innings pitched (12 outs), or at least 18 batters faced
  4. Order of appearanceThey are the first reliever, OR they are the second reliever, but the first reliever entered mid-inning, and the second reliever started the following inning

 

If both these pitchers exist, then we have a game with an opener and a headliner.  Both pitchers must exist; you cannot have an opener without a headliner, and vice versa.

Using this definition, we have updated our WAR calculation to treat openers like relievers and headliners like starters.  This change has been applied to all seasons since 1960, the first year we apply a starter/reliever adjustment.

Ryan Yarbrough, the Rays’ most frequent headliner, is an instructive case.  He pitched 38 games and 147.1 innings, but started just 6 times.  By the above definition, 16 of his relief appearances were as a headliner.  Prior to this adjustment, the Rays’ rookie had 0.9 WAR for 2018. After the adjustment, Yarbrough has 1.5 WAR.  The new calculation recognizes that Yarbrough is behaving more like a traditional starting pitcher, and holds his performance to the same standard it would if Yarbrough had started those games.

Park Factors

Park factors for recent seasons have been re-computed to be three-year rolling averages. For instance, 2017 Park Factors now encompass 2016-2018. This is something that needs to be done each year when the season ends.

Catcher Defense Prior to 1953

With help from Sean Smith of baseballprojection.com (and of an unnamed team front office) and baserunning statistics from Pete Palmer, we now have incorporated catcher defense for the years 1890 through 1952 based on stolen bases, caught stealing, errors, passed balls, and, from 1925 on, wild pitches.  Prior to this update, these players’ defensive abilities were judged only based on errors and passed balls.

Duke Farrell is a particularly noteworthy beneficiary of this change.  His career WAR rises by nearly 8 wins, because he played in an era (1888-1905) with a lot of stolen base attempts and did a better job of throwing out runners than his contemporaries.

This change also impacts pitchers’ WAR figures, since we have more information about the quality of defenses to take into account.  For instance, Jack Taylor and Kid Nichols of the 1904 Cardinals see their WAR numbers rise by more than a win each after accounting for the fact that their catchers threw out fewer runners than the rest of the league.  Indeed, the Cardinals’ primary backstop Mike Grady saw his WAR drop by two wins with this update.

On the flipside, legendary pitcher Cy Young loses more than 4 wins over his career after accounting for the above-average work his teammates did behind the plate throughout his career.

We’ve highlighted some of the more extreme changes here, but to see full lists of the largest changes to season and career WAR totals, please see the spreadsheet here.

 

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, Statgeekery, WAR | 1 Comment »

2019 NCAA Tournament Features

18th March 2019

Before you fill out your bracket(s), make sure you check out all of the offerings on Sports-Reference's College Basketball site, which has the most complete historical NCAA Tournament box scores you'll find anywhere.

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Posted in Announcement, CBB at Sports Reference, Data, Features, Play Index | No Comments »

Hungarian NB I Stats Now on FBref

15th March 2019

We are continuing to roll out new domestic league coverage, and today we announce our latest addition: Hungary's Nemzeti Bajnokság I. We have statistics from its currently ongoing 2018-19 season, and we have historical data for the league as far back as the 2005-06 season. One player that gets a huge piece of his career added is Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolić, who spent the first half of his 20s winning two championships with Videoton. Over in Serie A, Bologna midfielder Ádám Nagy spent his first two professional seasons with Ferencváros before his move to Italy.

You can keep up with the latest additions of country coverage and new features here on the Sports Reference Blog, or by signing up for FBref's mailing list. Feel free to send us any questions or suggestions through our feedback form or FBref's official Twitter account.

Posted in Announcement, Data, FBref | No Comments »

“Own Goals” Added to NBA/ABA Box Scores

12th March 2019

At Basketball Reference, we're constantly working to beef up the accuracy and content of our historical box scores. A coverage map of our progress can be seen here.

We recently undertook a mission to ensure that the sum of player points within our box scores correctly adds up to their team's points in that game. We uncovered an interesting wrinkle in the way the NBA (and the ABA) attributed points to players and teams decades ago.

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Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, History, Statgeekery | No Comments »

NCAA Tournament Starters Complete Back to 1994

8th March 2019

About a year ago we unveiled our NCAA Tournament Player Game finder tool in the Play Index on our College Basketball site. At the time we mentioned that we had starters/reserves designated in all NCAA Tournament box scores back to 1998. Today, we're happy to announce that we now have starters/reserves for all of these games back through 1994. Additionally, we have this data for all Final Four games back through 1955, when Bill Russell won the first of his two NCAA titles.

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Czech First League Stats Now on FBref

8th March 2019

Our next addition to FBref domestic league coverage is the Czech First League. We are tracking its currently ongoing season and have league statistics back to its 2009-10 season. With this addition, we now have the early career of current Hertha BSC midfielder Vladimír Darida, who was a key member of 2012-13 First League champions Viktoria Plzeň. We also have Ladislav Krejčí's Sparta Prague seasons before joining his current team of Bologna.

You can keep up with the latest additions of country coverage and new features here on the Sports Reference Blog, or by signing up for FBref's mailing list. Feel free to send us any questions or suggestions through our feedback form or FBref's official Twitter account.

Posted in Announcement, Data, FBref | No Comments »

Serbian SuperLiga Stats Now on FBref

6th March 2019

Next on the list of countries with domestic league coverage on FBref is Serbia, as we now have that country's SuperLiga statistics for the current season and going back to their 2008-09 season. As usual, the latest country addition helps a couple of players in major European leagues fill out their professional statistical history. For example, Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrović spent his age-17 season scoring a team-leading 10 goals for eventual Superliga champion Partizan. You could also take a look at Mijat Gaćinović, who scored 11 goals in his final season with Vojvodina before moving on to Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt.

Stay up to date with the latest additions of country coverage and new features here on the Sports Reference Blog, or by signing up for FBref's mailing list. Feel free to send us any questions or suggestions through our feedback form or FBref's official Twitter account.

Posted in Announcement, Data, FBref | No Comments »

1984-85 NBA Box Scores Now 100% Complete

5th March 2019

At Basketball-Reference, we have a box score for every game in NBA history. However, the depth of those box scores is variable. In the 1940s and 1950s, they're generally barebones (points and FG/FT made) and for the last 35 seasons or so they're complete. A little over three years we announced that we had added ~99% coverage for NBA box scores for the 1984-85 & 1983-84 seasons. At the time, we were missing some ancillary statistics in 28 games over those two seasons. We're happy to announce that we've whittled that down to seven games and each of those seven is in 1983-84, meaning 1984-85 is now 100% covered.

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Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, History, Play Index | 2 Comments »

Yearly League Totals and Per 100 Possessions Data Added to Basketball-Reference

5th March 2019

In Basketball-Reference's League Index, we include a link to NBA league averages broken down by season, so you can take a look at the evolution of the sport from the leaguewide perspective. Previously we only included the per-game averages, but we have now added options to view the yearly breakdowns in the form of totals and in per 100 team possessions format.

Maybe taking a look at the league totals over the course of the years makes some things more apparent, such as looking at 2004-05's 38,748 3-point attempts, as opposed to 2017-18's 71,340 3-point attempts. Going by totals also makes the shortened 1998-99 and 2011-12 seasons a little more apparent in the historical register.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us through our feedback form.

Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Features, History | No Comments »

¡FBref En Español!

5th March 2019

Una de nuestras metas en lanzar FBref.com era construir un sitio que podía alcanzar a seguidores del fútbol en todo el mundo. Más que cualquier otro deporte, el fútbol es verdaderamente un juego global.

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