Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sad Story: Ricky Vaughn Admits He Used Steroids In 1989 To Help Indians Win Division Title

I guess there is nothing left to believe in. It was a great Cinderella story that year and now it is ruined.

Click here to read the story,

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rich Gossage vs. Mariano Rivera

...“I wasn’t a closer, I was a relief pitcher,” Gossage said. He made a great point that he was not just the closer, but the seventh and eighth inning man. He pointed out that he came on with inherited runners in the seventh or eighth inning many times. Some of those situations required that he keep the ball out of play.

Gossage went on to say that “Mariano doesn’t come in with inherited runners. He gets to start out the ninth with nobody on… Easy? It is a piece of cake compared to what we use to do.”
From Baseball Think Factory, quoting an article by Mike Silva.

Yes, relievers were used differently in Gossage's time. From 1977-1985, one of the time periods I will look at for Gossage, most of the top 50 seasons in both saves and games finished were by pitchers who pitched over 100 innings (with only a couple of cases of even 1 game started). From 1997-2005, the period I will look at for Rivera, there were no 100+ IP seasons and even 90+ IP was rare (less than 5 for both stats).

So I want to compare both Gossage and Rivera to the average relievers of their times. I picked Gossage's 1977-1985 years since that seems to be his prime years and he was very good throughout the period. It does leave out his great 1975 season as a reliever (he was a starter in 1976). So for Rivera, I look at his first 9 years as a closer, 1997-2005 (which leaves out a very good 1996 seaon). The fact that Rivera has continued to pitch great since then is a plus in his favor. Gossage supporters might say that Rivera's relatively low IP totals have helped his longevity. Gossage was just average after 1985.

The average relief pitcher from 1977-1985 had an ERA of 3.68 while Gossage had 2.10. If we turn that into a winning pct. using the Pythagorean formula created by Bill James to estimate team winning pct. using runs and runs allowed, we get .754. From 1997-2005, Rivera's years, he had an ERA of 2.04 while the league average was 4.31. That gets us a pct of .817. So Rivera edges Gossage .817-.754. (I checked park factors for each pitcher and the simple average of their teams pitching park factors was the same, 97.56, meaning that they each got a little help from their parks, which were about 2.5% lower than average in scoring). All the data I use here is from Baseball Reference or The Lee Sinins Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.

I also found the top 10 pitchers in saves in each era and then calculated the combined ERA of the other 9 (taking out Gossage and Rivera). The best 9 in Gossage's years had 2.87. That gets a .651 pct. The best 9 in Rivera's years had 3.07, getting us a pct of .694. Again, edge to Rivera.

So far, when being compared to contemporaries with a similar role, Rivera is ahead. But ERA can be misleading, since the fielders play a role here (and ERA may not be the best way to judge relievers who are supposed to come in and put out fires).

To avoid this problem, I am going to look at how each guy comapared to his peers in the fielding independent stats (HRs, BBs, SOs). Then I will convert that into a run value using the values below

HR: 1.40
BB: .33
SO: -.22

Those are the values used in what is called "Fielding Independent ERA" formulas. The table below shows how each guy compared to the average reliever of his time in these stats per 9 IP. For example, Gossage allowed .508 HRs per 9 IP while the average reliever allowed .724. So he was .216 better. Multiplying that by 1.4 we get .3024 (it is negative in the table, meaning how much below average Gossage was). Then this is done for the other stats and for Rivera. The last line shows the combined run value each guy was below average using all three sats.

So Rivera is farther below average than Gossage. If I use the average reliever ERAs from each period, then Gossage gets 2.49 (3.68 - 1.19). Rivera gets 2.76 (4.31 - 1.55). The Pythagorean winning pct for Gossage is then .686 and for Rivera it is .709. The next table does the same thing but only for the other 9 pitchers in the top 10 in saves in each period.

Going right to the bottom line, we can see that they are almost even. Gossage would get a Pythagorean pct of .620 and Rivera would get .611. Very close. Now Gossage may have been better than Rivera, but I think the evidence shows that he should not belittle his greatness. Rivera seems to be at least close to Gossage as measured by how good they were relative to their peers.

One weakness of looking at the others in the top 9 is that park effects and fielders might play a big role since they don't represent the entire league. It is possible that the other 9 guys Rivera gets comapred to pitched in great hitters parks so they look weak in comparison to him. Or maybe Rivera had much better fielders behind him. I have not checked that. And when I did the top 10, it included both leagues whereas when I used the league average, it was just the league they pitched in (for Gossage it was the NL from 1977 and 1984-5 and the AL from 1978-83).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who Did Yankee Opponents Have To Fear In The Late Innings During The Late 1970s?

A couple of weeks ago on a White Sox game, Ken Harrelson said something like "back in the late 70s, when you were facing the Yankees, Reggie Jackson wasn't the guy you had to worry about. Other teams worried about Munson and Piniella in the late innings."

So I looked at how each of them hit in innings 7-9 from 1977-79 using Baseball Reference. The table below summarizes the data.

If you were afraid someone would get a hit, Piniella was the problem. But if power was the concern, Jackson was still definitely the guy doing the damage. And his average was not much lower than Munson's.

Here is the AVG/SLG/ISO for each guy combined for the three years:

Jackson 0.275/0.543/0.268
Munson 0.280/0.361/0.081
Piniella 0.328/0.452/0.124

Notice that if you add up the isolated power of both Munson and Piniella it is still less than Jackson's, meaning that he had more extra bases per AB than those two combined.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June Hitting Up Slightly In The AL, Down Slightly In The NL

With hitting pretty low already this year, not much good news for fans who like offense. The AL OPS by month so far

April .713
May .720
June .723

But for isolated power (ISO) we have

April .145
May .141
June .140

Runs per game in June 4.4

The NL OPS by month so far

April .709
May .702
June .700

But for isolated power (ISO) we have

April .137
May .132
June .131

Runs per game in June 3.83

Friday, June 10, 2011

Seasons With 15 Or Fewer HRs And SLG > .600

The PA minimum was 400. This is inspired by “Roll Projector!” Jose Reyes *is* on an Historic Pace from the Baseball Reference blog. They mention that Jose Reyes has a chance to set the Mets record for total bases in a season without hitting many HRs.

The table below shows all of the players who fit my criteria.

Those all happened a long time ago. The table below shows all the players who did it since 1946 with less than 30 HRs.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June Hitting Off To A Slow Start

The NL is averaging 3.89 runs per game with a .689 OPS. Their ISO is just .125. The AL is scoring 4.16 runs per game with a .712 OPS and a .139 ISO. Data from Baseball Reference. These numbers are even lower than they were in April and May. See my earlier post May Hitting About As Bad As April.

Last night there were 7 games with a total runs scored of 5 or less. That is between both teams. In 98 games so far in June, the NL has hit just 73 HRs. That would be about 120 per team for a whole season. The AL was a little better with 82 HRs in 88 games.

The table below shows the hitting stats in each month for both leagues in each of the last two years. The June numbers for 2010 are for the entire month.

The next table shows how each of those stats has changed.

Not sure if there is any kind of pattern other than that everything is down. It looks like the NL's power decline is even bigger than the AL's when you look at ISO.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May Hitting About As Bad As April

The MLB OPS for each month was .711. The NL fell to .702 from .709 while the AL rose to .720 from .713. But each league saw runs per game drop off. The AL went 4.33-4.29 while the NL went 4.25-4.02. Isolated power fell just a bit in each league. The AL declined from .145 to .142 while the NL slid to .132 after .137 in April.

The run scoring was probably helped over the last two days of the month which had 5.28 per game for all of MLB. I looked at April vs. May hitting a few weeks ago with May Hitting So Far Has Been Even Worse Than April Hitting and May OPS: AL .705, NL .699.

I also noted, as so many others have, that Albert Pujols is off to a slow start. See Albert Pujols' Slow Start from May 23. His OPS+ in each of the first two months so far have been 112 & 113. It is the first time in his career that he has had two straight months under 120. He has only had under 150 in back-to-back months twice before this and never had back-to-back months below 140. In 48 of his first 60 months his OPS+ has been 150 or higher. His ISO in May was .099, well below the league average of .132.

Paul Konerko had the highest May OPS of his career, .902. The next highest is .846. So given that hitting is down in MLB this year compared the rest of his career, this is pretty interesting. In fact, Konerko's May OPS in every year of his career has been less than the full-season OPS. See May Day, May Day! Throw Konerko A Life Preserver. So it looks like he has overcome his May jinx.

The table below shows his OPS in every month starting in 1999. April actually includes March and Sept includes Oct.

In only 3 seasons has his May OPS been greater than his April OPS (1999, 2007 and 2001). In only 3 seasons has his May OPS been greater than his June OPS (1999, 2003, and 2009). In six seasons his May OPS fell by 100 or more points compared to April and then rose 100 or more points in June compared to May.

In six seasons his overall OPS was 100 or more points better than his May OPS. Three others were 50 or more points better. The closest his May OPS has gotten to his full season OPS is 22 points. He has had 8 months with an OPS under .600 and 4 of them have come in May. No other mont has more than one and the one from Sept was .599.

Going into this year his career May OPS was .713. So he beat that by nearly 200 points.