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Play Index Tools are Moving to Stathead.com

13th May 2020

The Play Index first launched on Baseball-Reference.com over thirteen years ago and has been one of the most used research tools for baseball ever since. Many of these tools have been recreated on our Basketball, Football, Hockey and College sites over the last twelve years, and, likewise, they have earned a dedicated user base of their own. Our Baseball Play Index was always a subscription product, but we never applied that model to the other sports' tools. It was always our intention to charge for these products, but for a variety of reasons that never happened.

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 Basketball, Football, Hockey, and College Play Indexes represent well under 1% of our revenue. 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 for us to re-think how these tools are positioned within our constellation of sites.

While Sports Reference is doing 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. With the economic downturn currently taking place, our ad revenue is down significantly as well.

In addition, 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've started with baseball and are proceeding through the remainder of our sports over the next two months. Also, we have ended our dedicated 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 began in April for baseball and will be followed by Hockey in May, Basketball and probably Football in June and then College over the summer.

You can try out Stathead Baseball now. If you do a little digging, you will see that we are charging $8/month for a single sport and subscribing to all sports will cost $16/month. We realize moving from free to $8/month is a big ask, but we feel the tools provide a great deal of value and also believe that we can't continue to support the products without a viable revenue stream.

During the deployment of these changes, the existing Play Indexes will remain free.

--sean forman

Posted in Baseball-Reference.com, Basketball-Reference.com, CBB at Sports Reference, CFB at Sports Reference, Hockey-Reference.com, Play Index, Pro-Football-Reference.com, Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

Introducing Baseball’s Premier Research Tool: Stathead

27th April 2020

Today Baseball Reference is excited to announce the debut of most powerful set of publicly available research tools in the game. We're calling it Stathead and you can sign up for a free month of access here. These tools may be familiar to some of our users from the Play Index. If you're a current Play Index subscriber, your Play Index login will also work on Stathead. You can try it out here. For some background on this project, please see this blog post from Sports Reference president Sean Forman.

Stathead subscriptions provide access to a suite of tools that allow users to run customized searches through 100+ years of career statistics, season statistics, game statistics, splits and play-by-play. These tools are omnipresent in every press box, broadcast booth, agency and front office in Major League Baseball. We're happy to offer access to these professional tools for the low cost of $8/month. Even better, for a limited time we're offering the first month FREE. For more info on Stathead subscriptions, please click here.

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Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Features, Stathead, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

NBA Play-By-Play, Lineup and Shooting Stats Added Back to 1996-97

18th April 2020

Last August Basketball Reference extended its coverage of play-by-play all the way back to 1996-97 (the earliest season for which comprehensive, digitized NBA play-by-play data is available). As we teased at the time, we hoped to use the play-by-play to build out other features. In October we added the ability to break down our box scores since '96-97 by the quarter or half. Today we're happy to announce that many features that we've had available back to 2000-01 for many years have now been extended back to 1996-97.

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Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, Features, Play Index, Uncategorized | 5 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 | 2 Comments »

Every Buzzer-Beater in NCAA Tournament History

6th February 2020

We have compiled every game-winning buzzer-beater in NCAA Tournament history. Since you cannot advance the ball to half-court with a timeout in college basketball, we have been lenient with how we define "buzzer-beating game-winner" and included all shots in the final 2.0 seconds of a game that put the winning team in the lead (so either tied or trailing at time of shot, and leading afterwards). However, it wasn't until the 1993-94 season that the clock automatically stopped on makes in late-game situations. Consequently, we have included some shots from 1993 and earlier that were made with more than 2 seconds left, but which left the opponent with 2 seconds or fewer left to respond by the time they chased down the make to inbound or call a timeout. An additional wrinkle is that the NCAA added tenths of a second to the clock for the 1990-91 season, but just had whole numbers for earlier seasons. One notable exception is Tate George's buzzer-beater against Clemson, since that was played in an NBA arena (The Meadowlands).

A few notes about how this data was compiled:

        • We read recaps or watched video of every NCAA Tournament game decided by three points or fewer. It's possible there was a game with free throws shot after time expired due to a technical foul (or something else) that we missed because the final margin ended up being 4+ points. Same with a three-pointer made at the buzzer on which the player was also fouled or a team that scored multiple times in the final two seconds.
        • The distances and assists listed are unofficial, gathered from play-by-plays, video review and newspaper accounts. Distances sometimes varied in different accounts, so we used the distances listed in the most comprehensive game stories we could find.

      If you have any additions to this data, please
      let us know

Posted in Announcement, CBB at Sports Reference, Data, Features, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Detailed Data Coverage Maps Added to Basketball Reference

14th February 2019

The Basketball Reference database contains box scores for every game in NBA/BAA/ABA history. However, the completeness of these box scores is variable. The boxes are more or less complete back to 1983-84, but only player points, field goals and free throws are complete all the way back to the start of the BAA in 1946-47. However, we are constantly fleshing out older box scores to make the data on the site more complete (with big assists from Todd Spehr, Sean Burrill and Matt Shuh). Since this is constantly changing, we have added a data coverage summary so that users know how complete our data is when running a search. As you can see, the page has four different tabs: Games, Playoff Games, Regular Seasons and Playoffs.

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Posted in Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, Features, History, Play Index, Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Get to Know Mike Daum & Chris Clemons: CBB’s Next 3,000-Pt Scorers

4th November 2018

They've been playing college basketball for well over 100 years. And yet only eight men in the history of major men's college basketball have managed to score 3,000 career points: Pete Maravich, Freeman Williams, Lionel Simmons, Alphonso Ford, Doug McDermott, Harry Kelly, Keydren Clark and Hersey Hawkins. Notably, none of these players joined the 3,000-pt club in the same season.

In the 2018-19 season, we could see membership in this club jump from eight to 10 as Campbell's Chris Clemons and South Dakota State's Mike Daum seem poised to become the first pair of players in NCAA history to join the 3,000-point club in the same season. Clemons, a 5'9" high-flyer, and Daum, a 6'9" double-double machine, have few things in common in style of play, but they each enter their senior seasons with identical career totals of 2,232 points. Every NCAA D-I men's basketball player that has entered their senior year with 2,200+ points has gone on to reach 3,000 that season. Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Announcement, CBB at Sports Reference, Data, History, Statgeekery, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Get to Know Mike Daum & Chris Clemons: CBB’s Next 3,000-Pt Scorers

Dan Hirsch Joins Sports Reference

4th September 2018

Dan Hirsch joins Sports Reference today as a web developer. If you are a baseball fan, you likely know Dan's name from his work as the creator of The Baseball Gauge. At the Baseball Gauge, he's done a great deal to promote Negro League History, the History of Ballparks, and also the comparison of various sabermetric uber-stats. We are excited to have him on board. Dan lives in Omaha with his family and follows the Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Gators. He's on Twitter at @DanHirsch.

Posted in Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Basketball-Reference.com, CBB at Sports Reference, CFB at Sports Reference, expire21d, FBref, Hockey-Reference.com, Pro-Football-Reference.com, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

A New Chapter at Sports Reference

1st April 2018

I've been at this for 18 years now. Baseball-Reference.com launched in early April of 2000, and 18 years is a long time. We've gone from pre-formatted plain text tables to html tables, through various logos, and several redesigns involving mobile designs. Along the way, the only consideration has been what would work best for the user. That's why, after months of extensive research, I'm very pleased to announce:
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Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Ridiculousness, Tips and Tricks, Tout, Uncategorized | 25 Comments »

2018 WAR Update

15th March 2018

As you browse Baseball Reference, you might notice some subtle changes to WAR figures on the site. There are four main reasons for this:

  1. Park factors for recent seasons have been re-computed to be three-year rolling averages. For instance, 2016 Park Factors now encompass 2015-2017. This is something that needs to be done when seasons end.
  2. We've incorporated restated and expanded fielding statistics from Sports Info Solutions. SIS's Defensive Runs Saved forms the basis for our Defensive WAR calculations since 2003. From 2011 on they recalibrated data using their timer measures to measure ball hang time. There was also some recalculation based on changing shift methodology. Though we're now publishing their catcher framing stat (Strike Zone Runs Saved), we have not incorporated it into WAR at this time.
  3. Pitchers who received time as position players (whether PH or in the field) are now being treated as part-time pitchers and part-time position players. Previously we treated them as full-time pitchers. Some pitchers like Red Ruffing, Bob Lemon and Jim Kaat appeared in many games as a position player, pinch hitter or pinch runner. We used to credit these PAs as pitchers, which overvalued their offensive contributions. To handle this, we compute a percentage of time as a non-pitcher and make an adjustment.
  4. Also, we have incorporated a good deal more Retrosheet data which has affected the years we can compute more advanced fielding and baserunning measures. We're now able to roll these measures back to 1953. Another important change is that with Retrosheet gamelogs back to 1908, we can now use their IP data back to that year to get starter/relief IP splits. Some pitcher WAR changes for 1908-12 are due to WAR now being calculated using gamelog IP rather than the "official" total listed on the player's stat line. The biggest difference here was the appropriately named Bugs Raymond. The "official" record credits him with 324.1 IP that season, but the gamelogs come out to 304.1, which significantly impacted his WAR calculation (see below). For further reading on discrepancies between "official" records and more recently produced gamelogs, please read this excellent explainer by Retrosheet's Dave Smith.

For further details on WAR and its calculation, please see this WAR explainer.

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Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, Statgeekery, Uncategorized, WAR | 8 Comments »