Sunday, March 24, 2019

Chris Sale is the active career leader in Strikeouts per 9 IP. He is 3rd in Bases On Balls per 9 IP. Is he the first to ever be among the top 3 active pitcher in both stats?

Chris Sale is the active career leader in Strikeouts per 9 IP. He is 3rd in Bases On Balls per 9 IP. Has any other pitcher ever been in the active top 3 in both? (Kluber is 4th and 1st, respectively)

Other pitchers I have checked who did not do it include Koufax, Schilling, Martinez, Halladay, Verlander, Young, Vance, Mathewson, Jenkins, Seaver, Galvin, and Carlton (1000+ IP). That is, I could not find a point in their careers when they were in the top 3 of both for active pitchers. For most of them I checked at two different years during their careers.

So if you have any suggestions let me know. Maybe Sale has done something unprecedented.
 
Using the Baseball Reference Play Index, I would call up a 20 year period and then sort it to isolate the guys who were active up thru the year I was looking at (making them active). Then sort on the two stats.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Players who led their league in OPS+ at least 4 straight years since 1900

Players who led their league in OPS+ at least 4 straight years since 1900

Mike Trout
Barry Bonds
Mike Schmidt
Mickey Mantle
Babe Ruth
Rogers Hornsby
Ty Cobb

Trout has done it the last 4 years. Some of the guys above did it more than 4 straight. Cobb did it 9 straight. Some guys had more than one streak (Ruth, Bonds)

Players who did it 3 straight.

Albert Pujols
Willie McCovey
Frank Robinson
Gavvy Cravath
Honus Wagner

I think I got everyone. Here is the leader list at Baseball Reference

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/onbase_plus_slugging_plus_leagues.shtml

Monday, January 7, 2019

How batters hit in wins and losses, 2009-2018

I used the Baseball Reference Play Index to find all the players who had 1,250+ PAs in both wins and losses from 2009-2018. There were 229 players.

The biggest differential (.402) belonged to Josh Donaldson who had a 1.051 OPS in wins and a .649 OPS in losses. The smallest belonged (.090) to Alejandro De Aza who had a .774 OPS in wins and a .684 OPS in losses.

The correlation between OPS in wins and losses was .72.

Click here to see the data in Excel.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

How big was Bryce Harper's decline after his great season in 2015?

In 2015, at age 22, Harper had a 198 OPS+. The only player to have a higher OPS+ at age 22 or younger was Ted Williams with 235 in 1941 (the year he batted .406). And Ty Cobb is the only other player in this age group to reach 190 with 193 at age 22.

To look at how great young hitters did in the years immediately after their high OPS+ season, I had the Baseball Reference Play Index call up all the players age 23 or younger who had at least a 170 OPS+  with a minimum of  400 PAs.

The table below shows what they did at either age 22 or 23 and then the next three seasons. Avg is actually their OPS+ over the next three years combined, not a simple average.


Player OPS+ Age Yr.1 Yr.2 Yr.3 Avg
Albert Pujols 187 23 173 168 178 173
Arky Vaughan 190 23 148 133 141 141
Boog Powell 176 22 112 158 104 126
Bryce Harper 198 22 114 156 133 133
Eddie Collins 170 22 150 162 158 157
Eddie Mathews 171 21 172 170 143 161
Eddie Mathews 172 22 170 143 154 156
Eddie Mathews 170 23 143 154 120 139
Frank Thomas 180 23 174 177 212 186
Jimmie Foxx 173 21 161 140 207 171
Joe Jackson 193 23 191 192 156 181
Jose Canseco 170 23 147 159 157 156
Ken Griffey Jr. 171 23 171 122 154 153
Mel Ott 174 23 138 168 157 155
Mickey Mantle 180 23 210 221 188 206
Mike Trout 179 21 168 176 172 172
Mike Trout 176 23 172 186 199 185
Reggie Jackson 189 23 127 144 149 141
Stan Musial 177 22 174 183 134 163
Stan Musial 174 23 183 134 200 173
Ted Williams 235 22 216 215 205 212
Ted Williams 216 23 215 205 189 203
Tris Speaker 170 22 157 189 182 177
Ty Cobb 193 22 205 196 200 201
Ty Cobb 206 23 196 200 194 197
Willie Mays 175 23 174 146 173 165

There are 26 cases but some player appear more than once (Mathews, Trout, Musial, Williams, Cobb). So if we only look at the number of players instead, we have 20 cases. 13 of those 20 players had at least one season of a 170 OPS+ or higher in the next three years (starting from the first season they did it-Mathews did it first at age 21 and did it again at age 22 & 23 but not at 24, 25 or 26).

So most young players who have a great season have another one pretty soon after. Not Harper. His best season of the next three is 156.

The next table shows the difference between each player's great young season and the average of the next three, sorted by largest gain down to biggest decline.

Player OPS+ Age Avg of next 3 seasons Diff
Mickey Mantle 180 23 206 26
Mike Trout 176 23 185 9
Ty Cobb 193 22 201 8
Tris Speaker 170 22 177 7
Frank Thomas 180 23 186 6
Stan Musial 174 23 173 -1
Jimmie Foxx 173 21 171 -2
Mike Trout 179 21 172 -7
Ty Cobb 206 23 197 -9
Eddie Mathews 171 21 161 -10
Willie Mays 175 23 165 -10
Joe Jackson 193 23 181 -12
Eddie Collins 170 22 157 -13
Ted Williams 216 23 203 -13
Albert Pujols 187 23 173 -14
Jose Canseco 170 23 156 -14
Stan Musial 177 22 163 -14
Eddie Mathews 172 22 156 -16
Ken Griffey Jr. 171 23 153 -18
Mel Ott 174 23 155 -19
Ted Williams 235 22 212 -23
Eddie Mathews 170 23 139 -31
Reggie Jackson 189 23 141 -48
Arky Vaughan 190 23 141 -49
Boog Powell 176 22 126 -50
Bryce Harper 198 22 133 -65

So Harper has the biggest drop off and he seems well ahead of the next biggest decliner, Powell. Considering how well he did at age 22 and where that ranks historically for young hitters, his performance the last three years may look disappointing.

I also looked at all players who had 1200+ PAs from ages 20-22 and an OPS+ of at least 140. Then I found their OPS+ over the ages 23-25 (not exactly, for example, Ted Williams missed three years in WWII so for him I just used his next three seasons).

Harper had an OPS+ of 154 over ages 20-22 and 133 over ages 23-25. That drop off of 21 is the 2nd biggest among this group of 22 players. In fact, 16 of the 22 actually did better over the next three seasons and the last time anyone dropped off as much as Harper was in the 19th century (Beckley). Pujols, Griffey and Trout are all fairly recent players who increased their OPS+ going from 20-22 to 23-25. Yet Harper has this big decline.

Player OPS+ 20-22 OPS+ 23-25 Diff
Mickey Mantle 155 203 48
Ted Williams 182 212 30
Ty Cobb 176 201 25
Tris Speaker 152 177 25
Rogers Hornsby 153 177 24
Jimmie Foxx 162 184 22
Albert Pujols 154 176 22
Denny Lyons 147 164 17
Joe DiMaggio 147 163 16
Ken Griffey Jr. 146 161 15
Giancarlo Stanton 140 151 11
Mike Tiernan 146 154 8
Mike Trout 172 178 6
Sherry Magee 145 150 5
Mel Ott 156 160 4
Eddie Mathews 153 156 3
Fred Carroll 142 141 -1
Stan Musial 166 163 -3
Sam Crawford 145 141 -4
Al Kaline 140 129 -11
Bryce Harper 154 133 -21
Jake Beckley 142 119 -23

Where does Harper's 133 OPS+ rank all-time among 23-25 year olds who played at least half their games in the outfield with 1200+ PAs? 81st out of 99.

Click here to see that list

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Who was the best hitter to never hit .300?

My friend John Richardson suggested that it was Harmon Killebrew.

Killebrew had a career OPS+ of 143. His highest batting average in a qualifying season was .288.

I rated hitters by OPS+ and used the Baseball Reference Play Index to call up all the players with at least a 140 OPS+ with a minimum of 3,000 PAs.

Click here to see that list.

They are sorted by batting average (BA) in ascending order. There are 80 players on the list and 28 had lifetime BAs under .300. Those are the only guys who might never have hit .300.

The other players among those 28 who never hit .300 are Giancarlo Stanton and Frank Howard. Stanton currently has a 143 OPS+ while Howard finished his career with 142. So, although it is close, Killebrew is the best hitter to never hit .300 based on career OPS+. But Stanton could end up ahead of him.

Mike Schmidt had a career OPS+ of 147. The one year he hit at least .300 was in 1981 when he hit .316. Although he qualified for the batting title, it was in only 434 PAs since that was a strike shortened season.

Kevin Mitchell has a career OPS+ of 142. The only year he hit at least .300 was 1994, another strike shortened season. He finished 6th in BA in the NL that year but in only 380 PAs.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Red Sox Excelled In High Leverage Situations This Year, Allowing Them To Win Seven More Games Than Expected Based On Their OPS Differential

Here is a regression generated equation where team winning pct was a function of overall OPS differential. It was based on the years 2010-14. All data from Baseball Reference's Play Index.

Pct = .5 + 1.3246*OPSDIFF

The Red Sox had a team OPS of .792 while allowing their opponents .698, for a differential of .094. The equation estimates they would have a .6245 winning pct. That would be 101 wins. But they actually won 108 games.  Maybe it was because they did so well in High Leverage situations.


Split OPS POPS Diff
High Lvrge 0.854 0.649 0.205
Medium Lvrge 0.801 0.734 0.067
Low Lvrge 0.762 0.689 0.073

They had a .854 OPS in High Leverage cases while allowing .649. Using the same years, here is the regression equation when breaking things down by leverage

Pct = .5 + .306*LOW +.420*MED + .564*HIGH

Where LOW, MED and HIGH are the OPS differentials in the three cases. That equation estimates they would have a .666 winning pct., good for 107.9 wins. So it looks like their High Leverage performance added about 7 wins.

In case anyone is curious, in LOW, MED and HIGH case for all of MLB this year, OPS was .724, .734, .724, respectively. So on average, teams do about the same in all cases. But the Red Sox were much different than that.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Roberto Clemente's Amazing Late Career Defense

Clemente is the only outfielder to have at least 1.0 defensive WAR at age 36 or older (from the Baseball Reference Play Index with a minimum of 50% of games played in the outfield).

In 1971, at age 36, Clemente had 1.8 defensive WAR in 1,081 innings (about 120 games).

In 1972, he had 1.0 defensive WAR in 812 innings (about 90 games).

Only two other players had at least 0.8. Robin Yount had 0.9 in 1993 at age 37. Steve Finley had 0.8 in 2004 at age 39.

If we lower the minimum defensive WAR to 0.5, it was done only 12 times outside of Clemente and only one guy did it more than once, Finley. Finley had 0.6 in 2001 at age 36.

Lonnie Smith had 0.7 at age 36 in 1992 but in only 84 games. Pretty impressive. Stan Javier had 0.8 at age 37 in 2001 in 89 games (he shows up if I set a minimum of 0.75 but not at 0.8).

If we lower the age to 35 but go back to a minimum of 1.0, there are still only 4 cases outside of Clemente. Here they are:

Rk Player dWAR Year Age G
1 Willie Mays 2.1 1966 35 152
2 Roberto Clemente 1.8 1971 36 132
3 Devon White 1.5 1998 35 146
4 Jay Payton 1.3 2008 35 127
5 Al Bumbry 1.1 1982 35 150
6 Roberto Clemente 1 1972 37 102

If we look at ages 36-37 combined, Clemente has 2.7 (there must be a rounding issue because it is not 2.8). The only other guy with at least 1.0 is Finley, at 1.0.