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Stathead Baseball Adds the Pivotal Play Finder

21st October 2020

Last month, we added Championship Leverage Index (cLI) and Championship Win Probability Added (cWPA) to Baseball-Reference. These stats measure how much of an impact each player had on their team's chances of winning the World Series. Today, we are launching the Pivotal Play Finder, which measures the impact that each individual play had on a team's World Series win probability. This tool allows you to customize your query using a number of different filters to find the most impactful plays in a given situation.

It's not surprising to see that the most pivotal play in MLB history occurred in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. But many would be shocked to find out that it was not Bill Mazeroski's walk-off (which is 6th all-time). The most pivotal play actually occurred an inning earlier. In the bottom of the 8th inning with 2 outs, the Pirates were down 7-6 with runners on the corners when Hal Smith put his team up by two runs with a 3-run home run. This play increased the Pirates' chances of winning the World Series from 30% to 93%. Unfortunately for Smith, the Yankees erased the lead in the top of the 9th, and then Mazeroski became the hero.

With the Pivotal Play Finder, you can search by event type and find out that Babe Ruth's caught stealing to end the 1926 World Series was the most impactful caught stealing in MLB history (10.22%), or that Fred Snodgrass' muff in the 1912 World Series was the most critical error in history (24.39%).

We can also search for plays involving a particular player. Derek Jeter was involved in many memorable moments during his career, but none more pivotal than his walk-off home run in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series.

We can drill down even further and search by team to see that Randy Arozarena's home run off Lance McCullers Jr. in Game 7 of the 2020 ALCS was the most pivotal home run in Tampa Bay Rays history.

In addition to sorting by Championship Win Probability Added, we can also sort by Championship Leverage Index to find the most crucial moments. These situations are usually the most pressure-packed because the difference between an out and a run has an enormous impact on a team's World Series win probability. The situation with the highest cLI in MLB history came in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series. In the bottom of the 9th inning, the Giants were down 1-0 with 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd with Willie McCovey at the plate. A hit would likely tie or win the game (and World Series) for the Giants, while an out would mean a championship for the Yankees. As we know, McCovey lined out sharply to Bobby Richardson to end the series.

Please note that at the time of this writing, Regular Season event data is complete back to 1973, mostly complete back to 1950, and somewhat complete back to 1916. Postseason event data is complete back to 1903. Please see the data coverage page for details.

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Features, Stathead | No Comments »

Baseball-Reference Adds Championship Win Probability Added

30th September 2020

Just in time for the 2020 postseason, Baseball-Reference has added championship win probability added (cWPA) and championship leverage index (cLI) to the site.

Just as single-game win probability added (WPA) measures how a player impacts their team's chances of winning a game, cWPA measures how a player impacts their team's chances of winning the World Series. Similarly, championship leverage index uses the same concept of single-game leverage index (LI), but expands the scope to measure the importance of a particular play, in how it impacts a team's chances of winning the world series.

These stats are highly dependent on context and are best used as "story stats" rather than determining which player was better. When telling the story of the history of baseball, we point to the greatest moments such as Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World, Bucky Dent's home run over the monster, David Freese's clutch performance in Game 6, or Madison Bumgarner's Game 7 performance. Moments like these are captured in cWPA and cLI, but it's not just history's greatest moments. Every event in our play-by-play database has a value.

How are cWPA and cLI calculated?
Let's look at Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World for example. This was the third and final game of the National League tiebreaker series. A win for the Giants would clinch the pennant with a 50% chance of winning the world series. However, a loss would end their season, meaning a 0% chance of winning the world series. The difference between a win and a loss in this game is 50%. To get the championship leverage index, we simply divide .5 by our baseline of .006 (The baseline is explained here). This means that the Giants' cLI for the game is 83.33 (.5/.006). The LI for Bobby Thomson's final at-bat was 4.74. To get the cLI for the at-bat, we simply multiply the game cLI by the at-bat's LI, which gives us 395.0 (83.33*4.74). This mean's that this at-bat is 395x more important to the Giants' chances of winning the world series than the average play on opening day.

When Thomson stepped to the plate, the Giants were down 3-1 with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th, giving them just a 29% probability of winning the game at the start of the at-bat. Since the home run ended the game, the probability of winning the game at the end of the at-bat was 100%. To get the cWPA for the play, we multiply the difference between game win probability at the start and end of the at-bat by the difference between the championship win probability of a win and a loss. This gives Thomson .355 cWPA ((1.0 - .29) * (.5-0)). This means that Thomson's home run increased the Giants' probability of winning the world series by 35.5 percentage points. On the flip side, the opposing pitcher Ralph Branca is given -.355 cWPA for the play.

Note: cWPA values are displayed in percentage format, so the example above displays as 35.5%.

There are currently a number of places to find cWPA and cLI on Baseball-Reference:
Regular Season Leaderboards: Career Regular Season Batting Leaders
Postseason Leaderboards: All-Time Batting Leaders
Batting and Pitching Game Logs: Yaz's amazing 1967 season
Batting and Pitching Win Probability Tables: Sandy Koufax's Pitching Win Probability
Postseason Series Pages: 1991 World Series
Box Scores: 1960 World Series Game 7
League Batting and Pitching Win Probabiliy Pages: 2020 MLB Batting cWPA
Team Batting and Pitching Win Probability Tables: 1975 Reds Batting
Team Schedules: 1978 Yankees

If you have any questions or feedback on this new feature, feel free to contact us through our feedback form.

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

Sports Reference LLC Acquires The Baseball Gauge

27th August 2020

Sports Reference LLC has acquired the Baseball Gauge from owner Dan Hirsch. Dan was hired as a developer by Sports Reference in 2018 and has spearheaded our work on fbref.com. This week, Dan migrated The Game-Changer from the Baseball Gauge to a new home on Baseball-Reference.com. Work is continuing on the migration of additional features like Championship Probability Added and Championship Leverage Index.

Following the re-launch of these features on Baseball-Reference.com, The Baseball Gauge will be shut down. You can follow Dan on Twitter.

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, General, Statgeekery | 2 Comments »

Introducing the Baseball Reference Game Changer

25th August 2020

Baseball Reference is happy to announce the launch of the Game Changer tool, which allows you to customize how you view baseball on MLB.TV. The Game Changer may be familiar to those who were using it when it was hosted by The Baseball Gauge, a site run by Dan Hirsch who has adapted the tool to work from Baseball Reference now. The Game Changer functions in a similar way to the NFL RedZone channel, but for Major League Baseball, prioritizing the key moments you want to catch. All you need to do is set your priorities and click "Launch Video". The Game Changer will do the rest by automatically switching to the game that meets your highest priority at that moment.

Some of the different priorities you can set include:

- If a pitcher you want to see is on the mound pitching

- If a batter you want to see is at bat
- There is also an option to switch to the game if that batter is on deck with less than 2 outs

- If a player you want to see is on base

- If the game situation is high-leverage, meaning it could have a big effect on the team's chance of winning

- If there's a no-hitter going through x innings

- If there's a position player pitching

- If a game has entered extra innings

This is currently not available on mobile. So, if you have MLB.tv access on your computer and wanted a way to personalize your watching experience, check out the Game Changer and give it a try! Feel free to send any suggestions or feedback through our feedback form, we'd love to hear your thoughts on this new tool.

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Features | 1 Comment »

What’s a Home Game on Baseball-Reference.com? HTBF?

6th August 2020

With Major League Baseball making a mad dash to complete the 2020 season, a number of norms and standards have gone by the wayside this season. Due to postponements, cancellations, and Canada's need for a quarantine of those playing America's Pastime, MLB has been forced to schedule what they've considered home games to be played on the road. In these games, the host team bats first and they often go through the charade of wearing their road unis while the traveling team wears their home whites. We handle these games in a certain way and this has led to confusion as to what the home and road records and splits represent on Baseball-Reference.com.

Our policy has been and remains that a team playing in their home park is the home team regardless of whether they bat first or second (we call these Home Team Batted First or HTBF). We feel that home and visitor refers to location and not batting order. In a neutral site game (of which there have been very, very few), the home team would be the team to bat last. Since 2007, there have been 19 games where the home team batted first, those are listed below.

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Posted in Academics, Baseball-Reference.com, Ridiculousness, Stat Questions, Statgeekery, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Box Scores Since 1901 Now on Baseball-Reference

24th July 2020

As we were getting ready for 2020 Opening Day, the hard workers at Retrosheet announced their latest update, and we have gotten that new information added to Baseball-Reference as well as our Stathead Baseball tools. The highlight from the latest Retrosheet update is the addition of box scores from 1901 to 1903. This means that we now have box scores for every game in American League history, as the AL's first season was played in 1901. Retrosheet has also uncovered play-by-play accounts for games in 1916 and 1917, extending PBP coverage two more years back, although we should note 100% coverage remains limited to 1973-present. The new play-by-play allows us to further bolster our historical splits and event data.

With game log coverage back to 1901, we now have game logs for the entire careers of Hall of Famers Johnny Evers, Joe Tinker and Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown. We also now have the box score for Christy Mathewson's first no-hitter of his career, on July 15, 1901. Our Stathead Game Finder tools can now search back to 1901 as a result, and Mathewson appears as the 3rd pitcher in that time span to throw a no-hitter before their 21st birthday. Batting and Pitching Event Finder searches have been opened up back to 1916. Of the games we have PBP for in 1916 and 1917, Bill Hinchman leads with 3 walkoff hits in that span. Advanced stats tables that rely on play-by-play will also be extended back to 1916.

If you have any questions about our data coverage, you can always see it here. We're happy to have this new data on our sites and hope you enjoy it as well. Please let us know if you have any comments, questions or concerns.

And thanks again to Retrosheet!

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, Features, History, Stathead | 1 Comment »

Getting the Most out of Stathead’s Player Season & Career Finders

19th June 2020

The Player Season/Career Finders are a great starting place for a first-time Baseball Stathead user. Learning to use these tools will also provide invaluable indoctrination, as the search fundamentals you will utilize are applicable to our other tools, which drill down a little deeper, as well. The basic gist of these tools is that they’re the place to go when you’re looking to place a player’s season or career stats in perspective.

Here are some sample searches you can run using these tools. If you click "See how this search was built" after following the link, you can see how the search form was manipulated in order to achieve the desired results:

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Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Features, HowTo, Stathead, Stathead Tutorial Series, Tips and Tricks | 3 Comments »

Stathead Tutorials #4 – Event Finder

11th June 2020

Stathead is a powerful suite of tools that allow you to use our websites's massive database of statistics to research and answer questions. With a Stathead subscription, you can run customized searches through 100+ years of career statistics, season statistics, game statistics, splits and play-by-play.

You can try Stathead for free for a month, and we want to make sure that you get the most out of both your trial and your subscription. So we've created a video series that will explain what each research tool is and how you can get the most out of it! This is Stathead Tutorials!

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Posted in Baseball-Reference.com, Stathead, Stathead Tutorial Series | 2 Comments »

Baseball Reference Awards Page Revamp

27th May 2020

Baseball-Reference's Awards index covers all the major awards MLB has established over the years. In the past, we had some awards combined, such as MVP and Cy Young, on the same page. We've recently made a change to our Awards page so that each award is now given its own table, which allows for providing more statistical context than we previously did in these sections. For example, here's a link to our updated Cy Young Award page; you'll notice that you can now sort by the different basic pitching stats, if you wanted to take a quick glance at highest ERA (LaMarr Hoyt in 1983) or most innings pitched (Steve Carlton in 1972).

Take a look at our Awards index and scroll through the pages of baseball history at Baseball-Reference.com! Please let us know if you have any comments, questions or concerns.

Posted in Announcement, Awards, Baseball-Reference.com, Features, History, Leaders | 1 Comment »

Stathead Tutorials #3 – Split Finder

17th May 2020

Stathead is a powerful suite of tools that allow you to use our websites's massive database of statistics to research and answer questions. With a Stathead subscription, you can run customized searches through 100+ years of career statistics, season statistics, game statistics, splits and play-by-play.

You can try Stathead for free for a month, and we want to make sure that you get the most out of both your trial and your subscription. So we've created a video series that will explain what each research tool is and how you can get the most out of it! This is Stathead Tutorials!

Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Baseball-Reference.com, Stathead, Stathead Tutorial Series | 1 Comment »