Sports Reference Blog

Archive for March, 2020

Baseball-Reference Simulating 2020 Season with Out of the Park Baseball 21

26th March 2020

Today would have been Opening Day across Major League Baseball, with all 30 teams scheduled to start their seasons.  With the season on hold, we don’t get to find out how those games would have turned out. Or do we?

To help our users get their fix of new baseball, we are simulating the 2020 season using Out of the Park Baseball 21 and posting the results on Baseball-Reference.com.  Starting today, we’ll update the site each day around noon ET with the results of that day’s games. Check out player pages across the site to see their simulated stats update as the season progresses.  Additionally, we’ve set up a daily digest page where you can see each day’s scores and the current standings, as well as team and league pages with all the simulated statistics pulled together into one place.

OOTP is a full-featured simulation with a lot of settings, and we asked for your help on Twitter with a few decisions we needed to make.  Your feedback was overwhelming that you wanted to see free agents like Yasiel Puig sign with teams and that you want to see the game’s AI make trades throughout the season.  We have disabled injuries in the simulation, though, since no one wants to risk having a superstar player suffer a major injury and end up missing from the simulation.

 

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Fantasy, Ridiculousness | No Comments »

Senior National Team Data Now on FBref

20th March 2020

FBref already covers a wide variety of competitions around the globe, and continues to expand with its latest addition of senior national team competitions. There's a lot involved in that, but the headline is the FIFA Men's World Cup, which we now have data for from its first incarnation in 1930 to the most recent competition in 2018. That means we finally have pages for classic footballing legends Diego Maradona and Pele, while also filling out modern players who've made their mark on the global stage such as Miroslav Klose and Ronaldo. Peruse through the histories of countries that have a nicely stocked trophy case as well as some nations that have struggled historically. In addition to the World Cup, several major continental competitions such as the European Championship, Copa America and the Asian Cup are covered for recent years. International friendlies data will also be available on FBref.

The full Men's World Cup addition of course complements our existing collection of FIFA Women's World Cup history. One of the competitions included in this national team addition is the SheBelieves Cup, which we now have data for since its inaugural 2016 edition. Other continental women's national team competitions are included in this addition as well.

Here is the full list of competitions now available on FBref with this announcement:

World Cup - 1930-2018 (entire history)
European Championship - 2000-2020
AFC Asian Cup - 2000-2019
FIFA Confederations Cup - 2001-2017
UEFA Women's Championship - 2001-2017
OFC Nations Cup - 2007-2008-2016
Africa Cup of Nations - 2010-2019
CONCACAF Women's Championship - 2014-2018
AFC Women's Asian Cup - 2014-2018
International Friendlies (Men) - 2014-2020
CONCACAF Gold Cup - 2015-2019
Copa America - 2015-2020
SheBelieves Cup - 2016-2020
Africa Women Cup of Nations - 2016-2018
Copa América Femenina - 2018
OFC Women's Nations Cup - 2018
UEFA Nations League - 2018-2019
Algarve Cup - 2019-2020
International Friendlies (Women) - 2019-2020

Qualifiers
FIFA World Cup Qualification — CONCACAF - 1998-2018
FIFA World Cup Qualification — UEFA - 1998-2018
FIFA World Cup Qualification — CAF - 2002-2022
FIFA World Cup Qualification — CONMEBOL - 2002-2018
FIFA World Cup Qualification — AFC - 2002-2022
FIFA World Cup Qualification — OFC - 2014-2018
WCQ — UEFA (W) - 2019

AFC Asian Cup qualification - 2000-2019
UEFA Euro Qualification - 2008-2020
Africa Cup of Nations qualification - 2015-2021
UEFA Women's EURO Qualification - 2017-2021
AFC Women's Asian Cup Qualification - 2018

Player statistics from national team competitions can be viewed in the statistics tables of player pages by selecting the National Team tab, which will show their stats for every competition we currently cover. We are excited about this addition and hope to get to a place where we can also further fill out the statistics of the myriad of historical players we now have pages for. You can keep up with the latest additions of competitions coverage and new features here on the Sports Reference Blog, or by signing up for the This Week in Sports Reference 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, Features, History | No Comments »

Fix to Larry Hennessy’s Career Stats

19th March 2020

One of the coolest things about working for Sports Reference is access to the vast library of historical almanacs, encyclopedias, media guides, record books, etc. And for 50+ years, NBA books of this type have been unified in how they present the 1956-57 statistics for shooting guard Larry Hennessy. They all say the Villanova product played all 21 of his games that season for the Syracuse Nationals. However, thanks to our ever-expanding box score coverage, we noticed that we had record of him playing 19 games for the Nationals, after playing in two earlier games for the Philadelphia Warriors. Hennessy played for the Warriors on November 3 and November 9, 1956 before being waived and then signed with the Nationals on November 15. Accordingly, we have adjusted his career statistics to reflect this.

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

NFL100 Awards on PFR

16th March 2020

Part of the celebration of the National Football League's 100th anniversary included celebrating the top 100 in the league's history in various categories. Pro Football Reference has collected the major awards for display on the site: top 100 games of all time, top 100 teams of all time, and the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. You can find them all linked on PFR's Awards index. The top 100 games list is unique in that we include a summary of what made the games notable, as well as a link to YouTube for games that the NFL has officially uploaded in full in case you want to go through history in the offseason.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us through our feedback form or Pro Football Reference's official Twitter account. Thanks for following us!

Posted in Announcement, Awards, Data, Features, History, Pro-Football-Reference.com, Super Bowl | No Comments »

2020 WAR Update

16th March 2020

As we approach the beginning of the 2020 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.

Defensive Runs Saved Changes

Last week, we updated Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) totals across the site with new figures from Baseball Info Solutions.  The new methodology involves breaking down infielder defense using the PART system - assigning run values to Positioning, Air Balls, Range, and Throwing.  Under the new system, an infielder’s total DRS is the sum of his Air Balls, Range, and Throwing runs saved, while Positioning runs saved are credited to the team as a whole.  You can read more about the updates in the Sports Info Solutions blog.  The PART system applies to all infielders since 2013.

Folding these numbers into WAR, we see some significant changes for individual player seasons.  The 2019 Oakland A’s get even more recognition for defense on the left side of their infield, with shortstop Marcus Semien gaining 0.7 WAR and third baseman Matt Chapman gaining 1.6 WAR from the new DRS numbers, lifting both players above Mike Trout and into second and third place respectively on the 2019 AL WAR leaderboard.  Chapman’s 1.6 additional WAR represents the largest single-season change in this update.

On the other end of the spectrum, we see Adrian Beltre with the most significant drop in this update, losing 1.5 WAR in 2015.

Since we use DRS to measure the quality of a team’s defense, these new values also impact pitcher WAR values.  Team total DRS changed by as much as 46 runs for a given team and season - the 2019 Dodgers defense improved from 75 DRS to 121 DRS by non-pitchers under the new system.  Once applied to a specific pitcher, however, the changes to WAR are much smaller in magnitude than the changes to individual fielders. The most extreme example is Hyun-Jin Ryu, who pitched 182.2 innings in front of the 2019 Dodgers defense.  Considering the Dodgers defense to be 46 runs better across the entire season, and considering that Ryu was the pitcher for 13.52% of the Dodgers’ balls in play in 2019, we adjust our expected runs allowed for Ryu by 6.2 runs for the season. After following the rest of the steps in our pitching WAR calculation, the end result is a drop of 0.3 WAR for the season.  All other changes to pitching WAR from this change to team defense are smaller than Ryu’s 0.3 WAR drop in 2019.

Park Factors

Park factors for 2018 have been re-computed to include the 2019 season, since WAR uses a three-year average for park factors when computing pitching WAR.  The most significant change here is the Miami Marlins, whose pitching park factor rose from 90 to 95 (where <100 represents a pitcher’s park and >100 represents a hitter’s park).  José Ureña sees the biggest benefit from this, with his 2018 WAR rising by 0.7 wins. All other changes to pitching WAR from updated park factors are smaller than Ureña’s 0.7 WAR gain in 2018.

New Game Logs from Retrosheet (1904-1907)

Last month, we updated the site with new data from Retrosheet, including new game logs for players from 1904 to 1907.  Having game-level data allows us to be more precise in our WAR calculations, since we can consider the specific ballparks a pitcher played in and the opponents he faced.

Take Christy Mathewson in 1907 as an example.  Prior to this change, we used the league average (excluding his team) of 3.36 runs per nine innings as the expected quality of his opposition.  However, with game-level data, we can see that Mathewson’s actual opponents averaged 3.55 runs per nine innings, showing that Mathewson was probably used strategically and started more games against better opponents.  Indeed, Mathewson pitched in 10 of the Giants’ 22 games against the league’s best offense, the Pirates, as well as 7 of the Giants’ 22 games against the Cubs, the NL’s second-best offense. Against the Dodgers and Cardinals, who each struggled offensively and scored fewer than 3 runs per game, Mathewson pitched in just 8 games total.

Knowing this about his usage, we can set more accurate expectations for how many runs an average player would have allowed under Mathewson’s circumstances.  By adjusting the quality of his opposition, we expect an average pitcher to have allowed about 7 more runs over the course of the season, resulting in a bump of 0.9 WAR in 1907.  All other changes to pitching WAR from new game log data are smaller than Mathewson’s 0.9 WAR gain in 1907.

Baserunning and Double Plays from Play-by-Play Data (1931-1947)

When calculating runs from baserunning and double plays, we use play-by-play data from seasons where it is complete enough to credit players for things like scoring from first on a double, advancing from first to third on a single, and hitting into fewer double plays than expected.

In the past, we have taken play-by-play data into account back to 1948 for baserunning and double plays, because the data further back than that has been incomplete and could give players an advantage in their WAR simply by having more complete play-by-play records than their peers.  As this data has become more complete over time, we have moved this cutoff back to 1931. The data is still somewhat sparse for games that took place during World War II (1943-45), but we felt it was worth including those years as well.

Pete Reiser of the Brooklyn Dodgers was skilled at taking extra bases, and it showed in the play-by-play accounts.  In 1942, he took extra bases at a rate of 55%, compared to the league average of 45%. Additionally, the Dodgers were tied with the Cardinals as the league’s top scoring offense, so Reiser had many opportunities to put his speed to use.  He scored from first on doubles a league-leading ten times in just 15 opportunities, and also scored from second on a single 24 times, good for 5th in the NL that year, in just 29 opportunities. Using this play-by-play data while computing WAR gives Reiser an additional 1.2 WAR in 1942.  All other changes to batting WAR from this change are smaller than Reiser’s 1.2 WAR gain in 1942.

Caught Stealing Totals from Game Logs (1926-1940)

When crediting runners for how many runs they contributed with their baserunning, we take into account their stolen base and caught stealing totals.  Caught stealing totals are missing for many players between 1926 and 1940, but we have complete game logs for players in that span.

In the past, when we didn’t have a caught stealing total for a player, we would estimate how many times they were likely to have been caught stealing based on the league’s stolen base success rate and the ways the player reached base during the season.

We are now using actual caught stealing totals from the players’ game logs, so there are some changes for players who did considerably better or worse than we had been estimating.

Take, for example, Freddie Lindstrom.  In 1928, the Giants third baseman stole 15 bases, but his official season stat line does not have caught stealing available.  Previously, we had estimated that he was caught stealing 11.57 times, based on everything else we knew about his performance and the league he played in.  However, game logs indicate that Lindstrom was caught 21 times, nearly twice as often as we had estimated. This difference gets folded into our baserunning runs calculation and results in a drop of 0.4 WAR.  All other changes to batting WAR from this change are smaller than Lindstrom’s 0.4 WAR drop in 1928.

Biggest Career Movers

Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi sees the biggest change to his career WAR with this update, sinking from 46.8 WAR to 39.5 WAR, a drop of 7.3 wins.  The largest gain goes to infielder Lonny Frey, who picks up 5.2 wins. Both these players played in the 1930s and 1940s and saw big changes because of their baserunning.  Lombardi is known for being one of the slowest runners in baseball history, and this update shows that the numbers back that reputation. Frey was a fast runner in an era where stolen bases were rare, so he has been underrated to this point when it comes to his baserunning contributions.

On the mound, previously cited Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson is the big winner.  As discussed above, his WAR now recognizes how his manager would use him against tougher opponents, and he sees his career WAR jump by 2.2 wins.  Barney Pelty experiences the biggest drop of 1.9 wins.

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.

We're very excited about these new additions and hope you enjoy them as well. Thanks to Baseball Info Solutions for their contributions. Please let us know if you have any comments, questions or concerns.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, Features, History, Leaders, Play Index, Statgeekery, WAR | 5 Comments »

Ad-Free and Play Index Changes Coming to Baseball-Reference.com

4th March 2020

The Play Index launched on Baseball-Reference.com over thirteen years ago and has been one of the most used research tools for baseball ever since. We've made a few additions over the years, but the tools have largely stayed the same and the price has only gone from $29/year to $36/year during those thirteen years.

The Sports Reference sites have continued to grow in traffic and advertising revenue over that time to the extent that the Play Index and our ad-free options are a very, very small portion of our revenue. Most of that is on us, as we have not done a great job of promoting and marketing tools that are highly valued by a dedicated group of users. The Baseball Play Index represents less than 4% of our revenue and ad-free memberships are less than 1%. In addition, the Play Index tools are complicated to maintain and manage, and quite frankly are a money-loser for us at this time. It's well past time to re-think how these tools are setup within our constellation of sites.

While Sports Reference is doing quite well overall, I'm not comfortable with having so much of our revenue dependent on advertising. We are very beholden to search engines continuing to send us traffic, and likewise the ad market can be fickle and difficult for a small to medium size operator to navigate.

Also, advertising on the sites does not make it easier for you to answer the questions you have. This is our primary mission. We maintain a relatively low level of advertising on the sites (at least compared to your regional newspaper), and we are loathe to add additional advertising units or more intrusive units. Some of you may use an ad blocker, in which case we are making no money from your use of the site at all, and the audience for our ad-free product has proven to be very small as well.

A subscription model aligns our interests much better with our users' interests as well. I realize that users are being asked to sign up for lots of subscriptions these days, but we feel the tools within the Play Index are so specialized and useful that they warrant a paywall.

So we are making some changes. The Play Index for each site will be moving to Stathead.com. Stathead.com will become the center for all of our subscription products. We expect these products to include tools and information beyond just a redesigned set of Play Index tools. This won't happen all at once, but we'll start with baseball and then proceed through the remainder of our sports. Also, we will be ending our ad-free product and instead Stathead memberships will have ad-free built-in. There just aren't enough users to justify a separate ad-free product. These changes will begin this month and continue through April on baseball and then continue with the other sites after that.

If you are a subscriber, we will make every effort to make certain you are happy with the options we provide to convert your ad-free or Play Index subscription over to Stathead including the option of a refund on your subscription. You will be hearing more from us about the changes over the next few weeks as we will email users directly.

During the deployment of these changes, the Play Index on Baseball-Reference.com (and the to be launched Stathead.com Baseball) will be free. They will continue to be free through at least April 30th. If you are a current subscriber to either of our products, we have already extended your subscription by an additional two months during this free period.

--sean forman

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Play Index, Redesign, Statgeekery | 14 Comments »