There have been about 203,500 games in major league history (at least if you count the National Association 1871-1875 which many baseball historians including us view to be a major league). In the course of preparing for this season, I noticed that we had 4,999,745 games played in our appearances table, which meant we'd hit 5m on Opening Day.
This includes all kinds of games played from Cal Ripken's consecutive innings streak to Larry Yount getting the starting nod and getting knocked out while warming up in the bullpen for his only "appearance". We love these corny milestones, so we decided to track it today and figure out just who was #5,000,000. We caught a bit of a break as the way the games were played today we hit #5m near the end of the 4:00 games and before the 7:00 game, so we didn't have to give a starting 18 all of the credit.
Well, it was close but by our measure Wilkin Ramirez edged out Matt Thornton for the 5 millionth appearance in an MLB game. Are we 100% sure this is correct? Yes given our count it was Ramirez, but our count is almost certainly off by dozens if not a hundred or more in either direction. From baseball's distant past recordkeeping especially about defensive subs was notoriously bad, so we are probably missing some games.
But regardless this is the best we can do and it's a fun milestone. Happy Opening Day.
Opening Night is Sunday, so be sure to make the Baseball-Reference Play Index a part of your baseball experience for the 2013 season!
What's the 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 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.
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:
In a move to 1) reduce the number of negative WAR long-time players and 2) create a bit more consistency between our version of WAR and that on FanGraphs.com, we have agreed with them (their article about this change) to move the replacement level to .294 or 1,000 Wins for current seasons (30 teams * 162 games * (.500 - .294) = 1000). Pre-30 teams leagues will likewise be adjusted. Our previous Replacement Level was .320 or 875 wins, so we are now giving out 125 more wins than we were before. FanGraphs previously had a .260 replacement level, so they are going from 1,166 wins to 1,000. The net result is that these adjustments are given to players in a manner proportional to their playing time regardless of their quality of play. Read the rest of this entry
Some of the common critiques of the Wins Above Replacement framework include: 1) Why do FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com have such different numbers, 2) How can we trust it when the numbers change, and 3) How can we trust it when I can't calculate it?
For the first question, our announcement today of a consistent replacement level between FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com has done a considerable amount to bring our two methodologies into alignment at least on the question of how big of a basket of WAR to hand out to players each year. Previously, FanGraphs allotted nearly 300 additional WAR due to a much lower replacement level. Our meeting in the middle has erased this difference to zero.
For the next two questions, I would point to a very widely quoted and very widely used statistic from economics, Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Here is the Wikipedia article on Gross Domestic Product. I'm going to argue that WAR is essentially GDP for baseball.
With Opening Day quickly approaching, here's a reminder that you can view the historical progression of any team's Opening Day lineups by going to their franchise page and clicking on Opening Day Starters.
With Spring Training getting into gear, here's a reminder that you can request for your site to be added to our player newsfeeds. To get started, all you have to do is write a post as you normally would and use our linker tool, causing baseball-reference player links to be automatically added. Then let us know you want to be included by sending us the following information:
The name of your site to appear in the feed (at most 25 characters)
The url for your rss feed (must be a full feed)
A contact e-mail address
The url of an example page with our links in place
We'll review your request, and try to get your content added as soon as we can. It's a great way to get your content out there, and it gives your readers quick access to player stats and information.
In case you want more info, here are two videos about how it works: