Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Best "Leadoff" Hitters Since 1951

A few weeks ago I had a post called Who Are The Good Leadoff Men?. In the latter part of that post I explained a ranking system that is used here. To summarize it, it takes into account the ability to get walks, hits, hit for extra bases, and stealing. It also takes into account the value of a hitter that would be lost if he batted elsewhere in the lineup. The complete list of can be found if click here. The top 25 are below. I looked at all players who had 4,000+ PAs since 1951, the earliest year that both leagues began continuously keeping track of caught stealing. I did not adjust stats for park effects or league average.

Rank Player
1 Ted Williams
2 Barry Bonds
3 Wade Boggs
4 Frank Thomas
5 Eddie Yost
6 Edgar Martinez
7 Jason Giambi
8 Mickey Mantle
9 Todd Helton
10 Dave Magadan
11 Joe Cunningham
12 John Olerud
13 Mike Hargrove
14 Jim Thome
15 Gene Tenace
16 Lance Berkman
17 Brian Giles
18 John Kruk
19 Ken Singleton
20 Stan Musial
21 Richie Ashburn
22 Mark McGwire
23 Albert Pujols
24 Manny Ramirez
25 Gene Woodling

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Do Fast Players Hit Fewer 2Bs and 3Bs With A Runner On First?

If a fast player hits a ball hard and/or far down the line or into to the gap and there is a runner on first if that runner is slow or not fast, he might hold up at 3B. The fast player will have to hold at 2B. Had there been no runner on, then he might have hit a triple. A similar story could be told for doubles. So do fast players hit fewer 2Bs and 3Bs if there is a man on first base?

First, I identify the fastest players using the triple-to-double ratio. Just triples is not good enough since some fast players either don't hit the ball enough or far enough to get triples. But by using this ratio we are looking at long hits when the batter has a chance to turn a double into a triple. Fast players will do this more than slow players.

The top 15 in this ratio from 2005-2007 with 1200+ PAs were

Dave Roberts 0.5926
Jose Reyes 0.5111
Curt Granderson 0.4667
Juan Pierre 0.4533
Ichiro Suzuki 0.4444
Carl Crawford 0.4444
Chone Figgins 0.3333
Jimmy Rollins 0.3306
Luis Castillo 0.2830
Rafael Furcal 0.2791
Orlando Hudson 0.2644
Nick Punto 0.2632
Omar Vizquel 0.2500
Willy Taveras 0.2444
Mark Teahen 0.2346

I did not include Kenny Lofton since he is not currently playing and I could not get the data for him that I use below. He was 7th.

With no runner on first base, this group of player had a 2B rate of 4.491%. Their 3B rate was 1.57%. With a runner on first base, those rates were 1.68% and 4.235%. So they hit triples more often with a man on first base than without, but doubles were fewer. The rate was 6% lower. This group of players hit 254 doubles with a runner on first over this three year period. 6% of that is only about 15. That works out to about just .33 fewer doubles per year. The triple rate was about 7% higher with a runner on first base. This group of players hit 101 3Bs over the three years with a runner on first. Another 7% is about 7 then is only about .15 triples per year. So, all in all, fast players hit about the same number of doubles and triples with a runner on first base as they do with no runner on first.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The most indispensable seasons

I saw someone mention this idea once, but I can't remember where or what came of it. The question is which player seasons were the most indispensable, that is were most vital or necessary to their team making the post season or coming in first place?

I calculated this by subtracting from their Total Player Rating the number of games his team finished ahead of the team behind them. If a guy had a TPR of 7 and his team came if first by 1 game, he gets a 6. TPR tells us how many more games a team would win if an average player at a given position is replaced by the player in question. An average player has a zero TPR. It takes fielding, hitting and base stealing into account. The numbers in parantheses are their actual TPR and how many games ahead of the next team they were)

Bonds-2002-8.2 (11.7-3.5)
Yount-1982-6.3 (7.3-1)
Yastrzemski-1967-5.9 (6.9-1)
Schmidt-1980-5.9 (6.9-1)
AROD-2000-5.8 (6.8-1)
Brett-1985-5.7 (6.7-1)
Ruth-1926-5.5 (8.5-3)
Boggs-1988-5.4 (6.4-1)
Mays-1962-5.2 (6.2-1)

So Bonds is at the top again. The Giants finished 3.5 games ahead of the Dodgers for the wild card. Bonds had a TPR of 11.7. I have not looked at pitchers very carefully. But Ron Guidry had 6.4 pitching wins in 1978 and the Yankees beat the Red Sox by just one game. So he would get a 5.4. Also, as I scanned the seasons from 1900-1919, there did not seem to be many close races. A player could have a great year, but if his team easily came in first, he would not rank very high here. I did not look at pre-1900. I used the latest Baseball Encyclopedia by Pete Palmer and Gary Gillette.

Here are the Sept/Oct regular season numbers for the guys that Retrosheet has the numbers for

Bonds .362-.614-.681 (MVP)
Yount .341-.404-.563 (MVP)
Boudreau (MVP)
Yaz .417-.504-.761 (MVP)
Schmidt .294-.366-.677 (MVP)
AROD .241-.363-.565 (3rd in MVP)
Brett .261-.358-.512 (2nd in MVP)
Ruth (was not eligible for MVP)
Boggs .423-.551-.536 (6th in MVP)
Mays .337-.437-.673 (2nd in MVP)

Yaz was simply sensational in 1967. Maury Wills won the NL MVP in 1962, edging Mays 209-202. But Mays beat him in TPR 6.1 to 2.7. The leagues gave out the awards in the 1920s and the rules said you could only win once. Ruth won in 1923, so he was not eligible in 1926.