Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is Barry Bonds The Top Clutch Hitter Of The Past 20 Years?

I took all of the players who had 4000+ PAs from 1995-2014 from Fangraphs (about 2 weeks ago). Then I ran a regression with WPA/PA as the dependent variable and wOBA and dummy variables for batting left-handed and being a switch hitter as the independent variables. Here is the equation

WPA/PA = .000275*Switch + .00047*Lefty + .0741*wOBA - .0245

Then I predicted every player's WPA and found the difference between his actual WPA. Then that was converted into a full season of 700 PAs.

Bonds hit enough better to generate about 1.5 more wins than we would expect based on his wOBA. So it means that he tended to hit better than normal with runners on, when it was close and late. But some players will do better and some worse, just as a matter of luck. So we can't be sure who is really clutch

Click here to see the complete set of players

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Down The Stretch, Only Hitting With Runners In Scoring Position Matters

On Monday's "Baseball Tonight" the announcer said something like

"last year with the Cardinals it was all about situational hitting"

Then an analyst said something like

"that's exactly what you want heading down the stretch-its about those timely hits-it doesn't matter what you do the rest of the game-what are you going to do with runners in scoring position?"

I did a study once and found that if you break up performance into  RISP and non-RISP, instead of just using overall performance (like OPS and OPS allowed), you get very little improvement in explanatory power for winning pct. And the coefficients on the non-RISP performance are much higher, meaning they have a bigger impact on winning.

See Does Team Clutch Matter in Baseball?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Will High RISP Average Help Royals In Playoffs?

An ESPN analyst just said so (that and their low strikeout rate-they are last in striking out in the AL this year). They have only struck out 760 times this year while the league average is 968. But they are 10th the AL OPS and last in OPS+, which is adjusted for park effects. I think it was Jessica Mendoza who was the analyst.

Click here to see team RISP stats in the AL this year.

Fangraphs did two posts recently that dispel the myth of team clutch

Clutch Baseball Teams aren’t Clutch Baseball Teams by Jeff Sullivan

Searching for the Existence of Team Clutch as a Repeatable Skill by Chris Mitchell

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Babe Ruth's HR Hitting In 1918-19 Really Was A Great Leap Forward

Here are the top 5 HR%’s for guys with 200+ PAs through 1919
1 Babe Ruth 1919 6.71
2 Ned Williamson 1884 6.47
3 Gavvy Cravath 1919 5.61
4 Fred Pfeffer 1884 5.35
5 Bill Joyce 1894 4.79

We know how dubious the 1884 numbers are (see next paragraph). And Cravath in 1919 hit 10 of his 12 HRs at home and in his career he hit 72 of his 87 HRs at home. Philadelphia was a great place to hit HRs.

Williamson and Pfeffer played for Chicago and their park had a wall that was only 230 feet from home plate. In all other years, a ball hit over that wall was a double. But only in 1884 did it count as a HR. See Clarifying an early home run record by John C. Tattersall. This article was published in the 1972 Baseball Research Journal.

Ruth's HR% in road games over 1918-19 was 7.67%. Again, that is far ahead of Joyce's 4.79%. We would need to know the road %'s of other players before this time but we don't have all of them. My guess is that no one is close to what Ruth did.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Best Fielding Independent ERA Seasons Relative To The League Average And Adjusted For Park Effects

Using Baseball Reference's Play Index, I found the best 200 seasons in ERA, ERA+ and FIP ERA. BR does not have this adjusted list that I want, but I figure the best 25 or so seasons probably came from at least one of these lists of 200.

Here is how I made the adjustments: Take Pedro Martinez in 1999. His ERA+ was 243. That was calculated by comparing it to the league average and adjusting for the run environment of his park.

His ERA that year was 2.07 while the league average was 4.86. 2.07/4.86 = .426. Then we have 1/.426 = 2.3478. The park factor for Fenway that year was 103, meaning pitchers gave up 3% more runs than average there. So 1.03*2.3478 = 2.42. That gets multiplied by 100 (Baseball Reference has him with 243, probably due to rounding differences).

Then I converted that into an ERA in a league whose average is 4.00. I call that ERA* in the table. Martinez would have 1.65. But, that needs to be adjusted based on his FIP ERA (which is an estimate based only on walks, strikeouts and HRs). His FIP ERA that year was 1.39 or .68 lower than his actual ERA of 2.07.

Then I lower his ERA* by .68. That leaves us with 1.65 - .68 = 0.97. And that is the FIPERA* which is the FIPERA relative to the league average and adjusted for park effects.


Pitcher Year ERA+ ERA  FIP ERA* FIPERA*
Pedro Martinez 1999 243 2.07 1.39 1.65 0.97
Randy Johnson 1995 193 2.48 2.08 2.07 1.67
Randy Johnson 2001 188 2.49 2.13 2.13 1.77
Pedro Martinez 2000 291 1.74 2.17 1.37 1.80
Pedro Martinez 2003 211 2.22 2.21 1.90 1.89
Pedro Martinez 2002 202 2.26 2.24 1.98 1.96
Clayton Kershaw 2014 201 1.76 1.74 1.99 1.97
Randy Johnson 2004 176 2.60 2.30 2.27 1.97
Roger Clemens 1997 222 2.05 2.25 1.80 2.00
Dwight Gooden 1984 137 2.60 1.69 2.92 2.01
Roger Clemens 1988 141 2.93 2.17 2.84 2.08
Randy Johnson 2000 181 2.64 2.53 2.21 2.10
Zack Greinke 2009 205 2.16 2.33 1.95 2.12
Hal Newhouser 1946 190 1.94 1.97 2.11 2.14
Roger Clemens 1990 211 1.93 2.18 1.90 2.15
Greg Maddux 1995 260 1.63 2.26 1.54 2.17
Tim Lincecum 2009 171 2.48 2.34 2.34 2.20
Bob Gibson 1968 258 1.12 1.77 1.55 2.20
Walter Johnson 1910 183 1.36 1.39 2.19 2.22
Tom Seaver 1971 194 1.76 1.93 2.06 2.23
Felix Hernandez 2014 184 2.01 2.07 2.17 2.23
Steve Carlton 1972 182 1.97 2.01 2.20 2.24
Christy Mathewson 1908 168 1.43 1.29 2.38 2.24
Mark Prior 2003 179 2.43 2.47 2.23 2.27
Christy Mathewson 1909 222 1.14 1.62 1.80 2.28
Matt Harvey 2013 157 2.27 2.01 2.55 2.29
Roger Clemens 1998 174 2.65 2.65 2.30 2.30

I listed the top 27 instead of the top 25 because there are two pitchers from this year, Kershaw and Hernandez.

Martinez has 4 of the top 6 seasons, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003. In 2001 he was hurt an only pitched 116 innings but his FIPERA* is 1.35. He also managed to finish 6th in WAR for pitchers that year.

17 of these seasons have come since 1995. There was only 1 season between 1911 and 1967, Newhouser in 1946. But this is a high strikeout era and FIP ERA takes that into account. Maybe there is a way to first find HRs, walks and strikeouts relative to the league average and then adjust for park affects. Things might come out differently.

Missing from the leaders above are Alexander, Grove, Vance, Hubbell, Feller, Koufax, among others. Here the best FIPERA*s for each of them

Bob Feller 2.63
Dazzy Vance 2.78
Carl Hubbell 2.94
Lefty Grove 2.71
Sandy Koufax 2.45
Pete Alexander 2.38

Alexander's season ranks 41st.

I also did something similar for career FIPERA

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sale And Kershaw Vs. Non-Pitchers

Here are the stats for this year. They excluded any PAs against pitchers. There is a second table below using career stats and discussion follows the first table


Stat
Sale
Kershaw
HR%
0.014
0.015
BB%
0.060
0.040
SO%
0.290
0.320
SO/W
4.88
7.94
BA
0.194
0.197
OBP
0.242
0.230
SLG
0.269
0.303
OPS
0.510
0.532



ERA+
210
201
Park Factor
101
96
Team DER
0.688
0.692
Team Field%
0.983
0.985

The percents are using PAs as the denominator. I included HBP with walks. So Sale is just a bit better on HR% while Kershaw does much better on strikeouts and walks.

But Sale allows a lower OPS while pitching in a tougher park for pitchers. The 101 means that his park allows 1% more runs while Dodger Stadium allows 4% fewer.

Sale's ERA adjusted for the league average and park effects is better (210 vs. 201 in ERA+). Those numbers mean that once you adjust their ERAs for park effects, they both are a little below half the league ERA. Then that gets divided into 1 and multiplied by 100)

Now fielders could help Sale get a lower OPS and better ERA+. But the Sox defensive efficiency ratings (DER) is a bit lower than the Dodgers' so Sale has less help behind him from his fielders. It shows what % of balls in play get turned into outs. Those could be affected by the parks somehow though.

Here are the career numbers. This time PAs had IBBs excluded (as did walks). Neither has any IBBs this year. Keshaw has had a longer career so far. But Sale compares favorably


Stat
Sale
Kershaw
PA
2426
4767
HR%
0.023
0.017
BB%
0.070
0.081
SO%
0.268
0.247
SO/W
3.80
3.05
BA
0.221
0.218
OBP
0.278
0.284
SLG
0.338
0.324
OPS
0.616
0.608



ERA+
151
149