Sports Reference Blog

Launching Stathead

Posted by sean on April 27, 2020

If you haven't read it already, please read Mike Lynch's rundown of our new Stathead/Baseball service. I'm going to lay out some of the background for this change and explain some of the changes.

As I laid out in our post from early March, we are making changes to our Ad-Free and Play Index products.

Here is the thrust of what we said in March.

So we are making some changes. The Play Index for each site will be moving to 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.

If you've looked at the cost of Stathead/Baseball vs the Play Index, you'll notice we've gone from $36/year (+ $20/year for ad-free) to $8/month. I realize this is a significant increase. As I said in my original post, we are extraordinarily reliant on ad revenue. Back in early March this seemed problematic. Now with the complete collapse of the advertising market it has the potential to be lethal. If you don't block our ads, you may have noticed that we now have more ads on our pages. This is in response to the downturn in ad revenue. Sports Reference is doing fine right now, but if we want to continue to succeed and also be aligned with the needs of our users, a healthy stream of subscription revenue is vital.

We also feel our products warrant this price. The only comparable products to our Stathead tools come from Elias and STATS LLC and would cost you $10,000+ a year to subscribe to. You could create your own from Retrosheet data, but that would probably take more than $8/month of your time to maintain.

We are using monthly billing for at least the first few quarters, so that we can monitor more directly the success we are having in recruiting and maintaining subscribers. We have discussed adding an annual billing option in the future.

For the time being, we will be maintaining both the legacy Play Index site (which has been free since the start of March) and the new site, but before too long we will take down the old Play Index site, probably late May. We are also working on converting the other Play Index sites. First will be hockey and then probably basketball after that.

We realize there aren't games being played and that you might be facing your own financial challenges at this time. Therefore, we are offering the first month free for all users. And then, until the leagues start playing games, we will be giving users the option of claiming additional free monthly subscriptions. We'll provide more details on the latter plan as we approach the time for subscriptions to be renewed.

If you are a current subscriber, we will be emailing you with information about how we will be converting your subscription to the new system and of course, we will provide your money back if you are unhappy with the conversion to Stathead that we are offering you. Our goal is to give you a more than fair deal and see you join us on

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have questions or concerns.

--sean forman

14 Responses to “Launching Stathead”

  1. John Says:

    Will This replace the free daily Baseball Stathead emails or the Base Reference Website which is also free.

  2. Donald Holcomb Says:

    How would I find players for example like 1963, that got on by a catcher interference?

    Thank You!
    Don H.

  3. Mike Lynch Says:

    Hi Donald,

    The Batting or Pitching Event finders allow you to run that search. Here's the list, you just set the year to 1963 and set "event type" to "catcher interference"

  4. Mike Lynch Says:

    Hi John,

    Stathead emails will remain free, as will What Stathead tools are replacing is the Play Index (which has been a subscription service for ~13 years and ad-free browsing, which has been a separate subscription service for several years).

  5. Mark Growcott Says:

    I understand the reasoning behind the progression to a subcription model and will seriously consider taking this up if not too expensive. I am another that would welcome the option of an annual subscription rather than just the monthly option. Will the price of $8/M be for each of the other sites too or will it be cheaper given the Play Index tools aren't as extensive as Baseball's on the other sites?

    Will we be seeing new features included straight away or will these come later and is there any indication of what these will be? Features such as the long awaited "Coach Finder" being one such example on PFR. A removal/increase to the maximum lines shown on each result page would be welcomed too. Many of these show only 100 lines per page.

    Thanks again for the wonderful work you do.

  6. Mike Friedrich Says:

    Why did you remove the pitcher vs batter tool?  It was the main thing I planned to use.  And it was there just a few days ago.  Very disappointed after being really excited.

  7. Mike Lynch Says:

    That was not intentional. We'll get that back ASAP, probably Monday

  8. Mike Lynch Says:

    Hi Mark,

    Each site will be $8/month individually, but if you subscribe to 2 sites, you'll get them all for $16/month. we hope to have an annual option at some point in the future, as well.

  9. Chuck Says:

    Is there a place we can leave feedback or ask questions, besides within comment s sections such as this?

  10. Rod Nelson Says:

    @Sean & SR Team ~ I hope that you'll also focus on developing standard queries utilizing demographic, minor league and draft data.

  11. Mike Lynch Says:

    Hi Chuck,
    You can reach us at [email protected]

  12. Mike Lynch Says:

    Hi Rod. Could you expound a bit there on what you'd hope to be able to search?

  13. Eric Enders Says:

    Please add an annual subscription option.

  14. Mike Lynch Says:

    Hi Eric. We hope to introduce such an option in the future, but it's not something we'll be doing at this time.