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Were Giancarlo Stanton & Joey Votto the NL Slugging and On-base champs this year?

4th October 2012

Stanton slugged .608 in 501 PA's (sound familar?). With a hitless AB, he drops to .607 still well ahead of Ryan Braun's .595.

Joey Votto reached base 225 times in 475 PA for a .474 OBP. With 27 hitless AB's added, he drops to .448, still ahead of Buster Posey at .408.

Given MLB suspended the rule for Melky, was it also suspended for Giancarlo and Joey?

Note that rule 10.22 and 10.23 both mention the "Individual Batting and Slugging Champion" And 10.22 lists how to compute percentage records for OBP.

So I ask you, was Giancarlo the NL Slugging Champion for 2012? Should he or Braun get the black ink?

UPDATE: I was wrong as the rule was tweaked only for those suspended due to drug suspensions.

Apologies for my incorrect reading of the story I saw.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement,, Data, General | 14 Comments »

Why Can WAR Change From One Year to Next?

4th October 2012

One of the unsettling things for fans who are trying to get a grasp on Wins Above Replacement is that the numbers can and have changed over time. Setting aside the 1000's of historical errors in the baseball record book that are being searched out one-by-one, Miguel Cabrera's batting average is and will always be .330. His WAR (for of 6.9 Wins however may change slightly over time.

Why is this? While we want to think of WAR as a statistic like batting average, it is an estimate rather than a precise measurement. Lots of factors are put used in estimating this value and sometimes they change as better estimates become available either due to more advanced research or new data. Now obviously we think it is a pretty good estimate (at least as good as any other measure of player value). Each step has been rigorously researched and justified and is available for you to review and poke holes in (see the link below).

I think an interesting parallel is stock valuation. The techniques used to value stocks in 1980 or even 2005 are different from the techniques used to estimate the value of stocks in 2012. More data is available now, new computing techniques and even newly discovered mathematics. If we were to go back and apply 2012 techniques on 1980 stocks we would have different valuations using 2012 techniques than what we had in 1980 using 1980 techniques, and we'd probably be a lot more accurate.

Another example would be estimates for the size of the earth. This number has been refined and improved over 1000's of years as new techniques for making this estimate have become available. But even now this size is not a direct measurement (there is no measuring tape or scale big enough), but an estimate.

Now the difference is that probably few people care about that difference when it comes to stocks or the size of the earth, but we continue to be fascinated by past baseball seasons. So when we go to a great deal of study to estimate the effect of not having batter strikeout data on the value of outs in early 1900's baseball or the value of an infield single or an IBB in 2005, that affects our view of how valuable that player was in that season. At the time in 2005, we didn't consider IBB's as different from non-IBB's and we didn't differentiate between infield and outfield singles. Now we know the value of those differences and we apply it to our understanding of 2005, 1955 and 1905 baseball.

Previous to this season, we made several large changes to how we calculate player value. They are all listed below in the link, but the major one is the use of Baseball Info Solutions Defensive Runs Saved. Switching from Total Zone to DRS for 2000-present caused some very large swings in defensive value.

Defense is hard to measure as there are dozens of factors that go into its measurement, but we feel confident that their system is the best. They also are continually trying to improve the system. For instance, this past offseason they added batted ball timer data to refine their estimates of player defense. That means every ball in play for a substantial number of years was reviewed and timed (by hand). This then changed the defensive estimates for nearly every player. The stat got better as newer techniques and more data was applied to the question.

And even then if you think all defensive measure are bunk, use oWAR. It is every part of WAR, but assumes everyone is an average defender.

And if you think replacement level is bunk use WAA or wins above average. For single season measures like MVP races it works just as well as WAR. For careers, you'll probably undervalue average players with long careers.

Now could Cabrera and Trout's numbers for 2012 change next year? Yes, park factors are one factor in how batting is considered and we use 3-year park factors, so ideally the 2012 park factor includes 2011, 2012, and 2013, so if Comerica or Anaheim play much differently next year that could cause a change (albeit small--like half a win at most extreme) in their WAR totals.

Let me say one other thing, because of the fuzziness, I would never look at a WAR of 7.6 and a WAR of 6.5 and say the first player is "clearly better than the second". I would say that the first player is "probably or likely better than the second". However in the AL MVP race we have a 4 win difference which as far as WAR goes is huge, so in my opinion (and yours may be different) Trout was clearly a more valuable player than Cabrera this year. And, of course, if playoff appearances to leaderboard troikas are super important for you and overrides whatever else happened in the regular season then WAR isn't really applicable.

WAR fully explained

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, | 44 Comments »

What if I Think Defensive Measures and Replacement Level Measures are Meaningless?

4th October 2012

If you think all defensive measure are bunk and no better than random noise, use oWAR. It is every part of WAR, but assumes everyone is an average defender.

You can find all of this on the Player Value Registers.

Here are the MLB top 20 position players by oWAR.

Rk Age Tm oWAR ?
1 Mike Trout 20 LAA 8.6
2 Miguel Cabrera 29 DET 7.5
3 Andrew McCutchen 25 PIT 7.5
4 Buster Posey 25 SFG 7.1
5 Robinson Cano* 29 NYY 6.7
6 Chase Headley# 28 SDP 6.2
7 Ryan Braun 28 MIL 6.0
8 Adrian Beltre 33 TEX 5.4
9 Adam Jones 26 BAL 5.3
10 Ben Zobrist# 31 TBR 5.2
11 Edwin Encarnacion 29 TOR 5.1
12 Prince Fielder* 28 DET 5.0
13 Austin Jackson 25 DET 4.9
14 Joe Mauer* 29 MIN 4.9
15 Yadier Molina 29 STL 4.9
16 David Wright 29 NYM 4.9
17 Aramis Ramirez 34 MIL 4.8
18 Aaron Hill 30 ARI 4.7
19 Melky Cabrera# 27 SFG 4.6
20 Shin-Soo Choo* 29 CLE 4.5
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/4/2012.

And if you think replacement level is bunk use WAA or wins above average. For single season measures like MVP races it works just as well as WAR. For careers, you'll probably undervalue average players with long careers.

Here are the top 20 position players by WAA

Rk Age Tm WAA ?
1 Mike Trout 20 LAA 8.8
2 Robinson Cano* 29 NYY 6.0
3 Buster Posey 25 SFG 5.5
4 Andrew McCutchen 25 PIT 5.2
5 Yadier Molina 29 STL 5.2
6 Ryan Braun 28 MIL 5.0
7 David Wright 29 NYM 4.9
8 Miguel Cabrera 29 DET 4.8
9 Adrian Beltre 33 TEX 4.6
10 Joey Votto* 28 CIN 4.3
11 Chase Headley# 28 SDP 4.2
12 Michael Bourn* 29 ATL 4.1
13 Alex Gordon* 28 KCR 4.0
14 Giancarlo Stanton 22 MIA 4.0
15 Jason Heyward* 22 ATL 3.8
16 Torii Hunter 36 LAA 3.7
17 Aramis Ramirez 34 MIL 3.7
18 Ben Zobrist# 31 TBR 3.6
19 Martin Prado 28 ATL 3.5
20 Bryce Harper* 19 WSN 3.4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/4/2012.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement,, Uncategorized | 56 Comments »

Progressive Leaderboards

2nd October 2012

Quick note about a feature we have here at Baseball-Reference called Progressive Leaderboards, which lets you see the all-time career & single-season leaders in a given stat (any stat in our Leaders section, actually) after every season, all on one page.

Check it out to see, say, the historical progression of career or season leaders in RBI, or WAR, etc.

Posted in Announcement,, Features | Comments Off on Progressive Leaderboards

Subscribe to the Play Index!

1st October 2012

In case you don't already know about Baseball-Reference's 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 player game totals - Filtering on any of a dozen or more choices, search for games on a single player level, or on any batter from 1918-2012, or on any pitcher. The same can be done for Team Batting or Team Pitching Totals.
  • Search player games looking for the most consecutive games matching a particular set of criteria - This can be done either on a single player level or on any batter in the last 95 years or on any pitcher. The same can be done for Team Batting or Team Pitching Streaks.
  • 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.
  • ...And more!

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:

  1. Login to or create a account (the same account used to sponsor pages).
  2. Already logged in (or just created an account)? Go to our subscription page to sign up.

Our Always-Available Free Trial: Non-subscribers can use the PI's features as much as you like. However, your outputs will be restricted to a limited number of results.

The Play Index comes with a money back guarantee. We will gladly return the unused portion of any Play Index Subscription should you be dissatisfied with the Play Index.

So go ahead, give the Play Index a try -- we're confident that once you start using it, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

Posted in Announcement,, Features, Play Index | Comments Off on Subscribe to the Play Index!

How Many Baseball Writers Have Called or E-mailed to Talk to Me About What Goes Into WAR? Zero.

30th September 2012

You may have heard that the AL MVP is between a player who may win the Triple Crown and a player who most (if not all) of the stathead-friendly sites say is the best player in the league this year. There have been a number of articles being written by veteran writers about how stupid WAR is--complaining it's incomprehensible, stupid, meaningless, dumb, formulas are different, etc. etc.
Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, | 167 Comments »

How I Think We’ll Handle Melky and the Batting Title

24th September 2012

I admit I'm not a big fan of the decision to withdraw Cabrera from the batting title consideration. He has the highest average based on the rules and regardless of what he was using those hits occurred on the field. Since is pretty much all about what happens on the field, it puts us in a bit of a bind as Cabrera irrefutably (at least as it stands now) has the highest batting average in the league, but the league will not recognize him as the batting champion.

Looking to historical precedent, it's clear to me that we should now and should continue to list Cabrera with the highest batting average in the 2012. However, it shouldn't surprise you that there have been many other cases, though none recently, where the batting titleist at the time and person we currently recognize with the highest batting average don't match up.

The most "recent" case is 1910 where Lajoie had a higher batting average than Cobb, but due to various shenanigans Cobb was given the batting title (though both got the winner's promised automobile).

Likewise in 1902, we list Lajoie ahead of Ed Delahanty. The issues are even larger on the pitching side as the requirements have shifted around before settling on 1 IP per scheduled game (I've seen books citing minimum 10 complete games or 45 innings pitched). Even the 1IP/Gm can cause issues as in 1981 Steve McCatty was the recognized ERA Champion, even though in our opinion Sammy Stewart and Dave Righetti had better ERA's.

To handle this, we've decided to list ERA Leaders and BA leaders as they currently are in the leaderboard pages. These will be updated and change as new data becomes available and we will be apolitical as much as possible in how we draw these leaderboards. This is essentially the status quo.

In addition, though, we will add as awards the Batting Champion and Pitching Champion which will represent the player recognized at the end of the year as the top hitter and top pitcher. And we will strive to denote on each when the winners of the two do not match up.

This way folks can see who was best on the field and who was recognized as such at the time when the season ended.

Posted in Announcement, | 96 Comments »

Minor League Section

24th September 2012

Minor-League Section

Posted in Announcement,, Features | Comments Off on Minor League Section

PI Inning Summary

13th September 2012

Team Scoring and Leads Summary by Inning

Posted in Announcement,, Features, Play Index | Comments Off on PI Inning Summary

Oracle of Baseball

4th September 2012

Want to find a chain of teammates between any two players in MLB history, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-style? Then check out our Oracle of Baseball, which can help you find things like this:

Chain from Mickey Mantle to Mike Trout

Mickey Mantle played with Bobby Murcer for the 1965 New York Yankees
Bobby Murcer played with Otis Nixon for the 1983 New York Yankees
Otis Nixon played with Torii Hunter for the 1998 Minnesota Twins
Torii Hunter played with Mike Trout for the 2011 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Posted in Announcement,, Features | Comments Off on Oracle of Baseball