The Sport of Gods

Friday, December 15, 2006

Raise your kids to be left-handed

Career Leaders for On-base % -

33 of the top 58 career OBP leaders (those over .400) are lefties, and 5 more are switch hitters. Lefies are slightly over-represented in baseball compared to the total population, but over 65% of many of the best batters ever have a distinct platoon advantage over 2/3 of pitchers they face.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

HoF Analysis, addendum

I went into this project with some assumptions, and not all of them have turned out to be true.
1) The BBWA does/did not do a significantly better job at identifying players who deserve to be there. There are players from both groups scattered throughout the OPS+ rankings.
2) There really are some terrible hitters in the Hall of Fame. Lloyd Waner was almost a given to be among the "top" 10 when I started, but that's becoming much less obvious.
3) I didn't look too hard for a complete HoF reference site with advanced stats readily at hand. Every place I've looked is either a list of Hall members' names, or a stats site with thousands of names to search through for Hall members. It's not the biggest project in the world, but it'll take some time.
4) I was an idiot for not thinking of separating hitters and pitchers earlier than I did. It's a much more logical break point than who voted a player in, but there are still some lessons to be learned by that, too, so consider the player category list expanded to 4.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

HoF Analysis: Part I

There are currently 278 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Of them, 8 are Umpires, 16 are Managers, and 28 are Executives. An additional 18 were Negro League players and 12 more were voted in as "players" by a special Negro League commission. None of these 30 players spent enough of their careers in the Major Leagues to be fairly judged against their MLB counterparts, and will not be a part of the "worst" discussion.

That leaves 196 contenders after the first round of cuts. I'm going to separate them into two classes: the 103 voted in by the Baseball Writers, and the 93 voted in by the Veteran's Committee.

In making additional cuts, I'm going to look at OPS+ (OPS compared to the league average of the time) to see how a player compared to his contemporaries as a quick proxy for offense. Fielding statistics are highly imperfect, but I'll try to take defense into account by looking at enough different views to at least separate the really good and the really bad.

No single pitching statistic is as highly correlated to run prevention as OPS is to run creation, so after starting with ERA+ (just to eliminate the really top-tier pitchers from further discussion), really getting to the worst pitchers will be slightly more subjective, but I'll try to avoid making any egregious picks.

Hall of Fame

Topic of the day: The Baseball Hall of Fame.

I don't recall the exact conversation just the other day I was having with my wife, but the topic of her family history in the context of baseball came up. She has three relatives (all on her maternal grandfather's side, as I understand it) in the Hall: Paul and Lloyd Waner and Carl Hubble.

We could play a classic game of "Which one of these is not like the other."

Every year when the balloting for the new year's class comes around, all the national writers (whether they have an official vote or not) weigh in with their choices and justifications. Some will say that a Hall candidate needs to be better than the average Hall of Famer, so that each class raises the bar even higher. Some say a player only has to be better than the worst player already in. Then the discussion shifts to who the worst player is.

If asked, the vast majority of baseball fans will reply with one of two answers:
I have no idea.
Lloyd Waner.

So today I begin my quest to nominate the 10 worst players in the Hall of Fame, if for no other reason than to help "clear**" the name of my extended family.

** Being the "worst Hall of Famer" is sort of like being the "poorest millionaire." It's only derogatory when compared to the upper echelon of his peers. Hitting a baseball better than 99.95% of Americans in his time is nothing to be ashamed of.

A new beginning

"America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time."

In this day and age, everybody has an opportunity to add their own little take on history, and that is exactly why this place exists.