Wednesday, June 30, 2004

THE FAVORITE TOY...Predictions of Career Accomplishments

See story

For the sake of this example we will use Arod stats prior to the start of the 2004 season, and use the “Toy” to figure out his chances at career totals in hits.

At the start of the 2004 season, Arod had 1535 hits.
Lets figure out what his chances are for reaching 3000 hits.

1. The number of hits the player needs to reach the goal.
2. How many years he has left to reach the goal.
3. His estimated hit level.
4. His projected remaining hits.

I. First you begin with the players current stat: 1535 hits.
(a) You then subtract that stat from the goal (in this case 3000 hits) = 1465

II. Years Remaining
(a) Take the players age at the start of the last season completed (Arod was 27).
(b) FORMULA: 24 - .6 (age)
(c) 24 - .6(27) = 7.8
(d) IF the player is a catcher, multiply the answer from line C by .7
(e) IF the player is older than 39, he still receives 1.5 years remaining, for that is the lowest number that can be given in this formula.

III. Established Level
(a) Add the last three years totals together by the following formula:
Most recent season TIMES 3, next season TIMES 2, then 3rd Season.

For Arod that would mean: 2003 (181), 2002 (187), 2001(201).

201 + 187 (2) + 181 (3) = 201+374 + 543 = 1118
then divide by 6 = 186.3

IV. Projected Remaining
(a) Multiply years remaining by established level.
AROD: 7.8 x 186.3 = 1453

V. Probability
Take Projected Remaining / Amount Needed, then subtract .50
(1453/1465) - .50
.99 - .50 = .49


Arod has a 49% chance of reaching 3,000 career hits.

Pitch Counts,...When Did They Start?

Who's counting (pitches)? The A's -- as early as 1967

By Stan McNeal - SportingNews

Dave Duncan was a catcher for the Kansas City Athletics in 1967 when he first heard about pitch counts. Charlie Finley, the club's unconventional owner, and farm director Eddie Robinson had ordered a 100-pitch per-start maximum throughout the A's farm system. The objective: Don't overextend young arms.

"I remember because they took out George Lauzerique when he had a no-hitter going," Duncan says. Lauzerique was lifted after seven innings in a Class AA game in '67 when his pitch count reached 97. Two months later, Lauzerique, who wound up having a short career in the majors, pitched a perfect game in a minor league contest scheduled for seven innings, accomplishing the feat with 85 pitches.

Thirty-seven years later, limiting pitches is as much a part of the game as the setup man. But until well into the 1970s, a 100-pitch outing was considered little more than a warmup for most starters. And those who pitched back then always seem to enjoy telling stories about how manly the starters were.

Gaylord Perry remembers a game he started for the Giants against the Reds in 1967. The score was 0-0 heading into the 16th inning when manager Herman Franks cozied up to Perry and asked, "You got another inning in you?" Perry, who topped the 300-inning mark six times during his Hall of Fame career (no one has topped 300 in a season since the Phillies' Steve Carlton did it in 1980), said yes, of course. He made it through the inning without giving up a run and turned the game over to the bullpen. The Giants went on to win, 1-0, in 21 innings.

Tom Seaver says he had a pitch count for the Mets in the 1970s. It was 135 pitches, which are about 25 more than when the caution flags go up these days. Seaver says the Mets' Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan were good for 145 and 155.

Jim Palmer recalls he once informed Orioles manager Earl Weaver that Mike Cuellar was going on 110 pitches entering the ninth. Weaver, never one to miss a chance to put Palmer in his place, told his ace righthander, "Get your (butt) back to the end of the dugout. I'll tell you when he's tired."

But in this age of long-term contracts and $2.49 million average salaries, clubs tend to care more about their investments than they did before the free-agent era. Pitch counts today are monitored as closely as wins and earned-run average. Their importance is noted by their inclusion in box scores and scouting reports. Many teams count warmup pitches as closely as pitches thrown during the game. With so much attention on pitch counts, most starters have come to believe their day is done shortly after hitting the 100-pitch mark. American League starters are averaging 96.4 pitches a game this season, according to STATS Inc.; N.L. starters are lasting 94.3.

For the 21st-century pitching coach such as the Mets' Rick Peterson, counting pitches is nearly as important to his job as teaching a fluid delivery. The reason is simple: Many believe the leading cause for pitching injuries is overwork, and monitoring pitch counts is the most accurate way to judge workloads.

Even older former players such as Seaver believe in the benefits of counting pitches. Seaver wishes the individual involved was a greater part of the equation, though. "It's seems like there's a blanket number that they use on everyone," he says.

Tigers pitching coach Bob Cluck is another big supporter of limiting workloads. When he was pitching coach for the Astros in 1991, the team pulled rookie Darryl Kile even though he had no-hit the Reds for six innings. It was Kile's first start in the majors, he had not thrown more than 41 pitches in a previous big-league game, and the Astros had decided beforehand to limit him to 50 to 60 pitches. "He had 65 at the end of six, and (manager) Art Howe and I took him out," Cluck says. "(The media) barbecued us. I told Darryl that someday you'll throw a no-hitter. And he did, the year after the next."

Stan McNeal is a managing editor for Sporting News. Email him at

Updated on Monday, Jun 28, 2004 4:47 pm EDT

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

All-Time HOF BB Lists


Here is a complete list of all HOFamers, inducted primarily for their hitting exploits, and their single season career high in BB (number in parenthesis is the number of seasons in which they recorded 100 BB). Keep in mind, that out of the 129 HOFamers surveyed, only 38 of them even had one 100 walk season.

Bonds 198 (12)
Ruth 170 (13)
T.Williams 162 (11)
Mantle 146 (10)
Killebrew 145 (7)
Kiner 137 (6)
McCovey 137 (3)
Gehrig 132 (11)
J.Morgan 132 (8)
Schmidt 128 (3)
Hamilton 126 (5)
Yaz 126 (6)
Ashburn 125 (3)
Matthews 124 (5)
Appling 122 (3)
Collins 119 (2)
Greenberg 119 (3)
Foxx 119 (2)
Ott 118 (10)
Vaughan 118 (2)
Cobb 118
PeeWee Reese 116 (2)
R.Connor 116
Reggie Jax 114
Anson 113
Gehringer 113 (2)
Mays 112
Evers 108
Hornsby 107
Kelley 107
Musial 107 (3)
E.Murray 107
J.Robinson 106
Cochrane 106 (2)
H.Wilson 105
Snider 104
Brett 103
Doby 102 (2)
Bench 100
Brouthers 99
Averill 99
Sewell 98
Lazerri 97
Speaker 97
Mize 94
B.McPhee 94
McCarthy 93
Goslin 92
H.Aaron 92
Rizutto 92
Cronin 91
P.Waner 89
Irvin 89
Hooper 89
OzzieSmith 89
Slaughter 88
Stargell 87
Delahanty 86
Flick 86
T.Jackson 85
Winfield 85
Kelly 83
Bresnahan 83
Kaline 83
T.Perez 83
Doerr 83
Herman 82
Combs 81
Carey 80
Dimaggio 80
F.Clarke 80
Bancroft 79
Jennings 78
Helimann 78
Chance 78
G.Carter 78
Yount 78
Carew 78
Dickey 77
R.Youngs 77
B.Williams 77
Brock 76
Fisk 75
Fox 75
Bottomley 74
Cuyler 72
Kell 71
Banks 71
Crawford 69
Schalk 68
Maranville 68
Campanella 67
H.Wagner 67
Duffy 66
Aparicio 66
Berra 66
Davis 66
Hartnett 65
Terry 64
Frisch 64
HR Baker 63
Walalce 63
B.Robinson 63
Cepeda 62
Klein 60
Schoendiest 60
Lajoie 60
S.Thompson 59
Rice 57
Puckett 57
Clemente 56
Traynor 54
Beckley 54
Simmons 53
Wheat 52
Hafey 52
O'Rourke 49
Sisler 49
Lindstrom 48
Manush 47
Kelly 47
Roush 46
Medwick 45
Keeler 43
Tinker 43
Lombardi 43
Collins 41
Ewing 41
L.Waner 40
Mazeroski 40

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Inter-League Play, Does it Effect League Winners?

*** The following excerpt is taken from a SABR, Society for American Baseball Research, Internet discussion group and discusses the impact of Inter-League play on Divisional winners. Have any of the races been affected by Inter-League play? This article is reproduced with permission of its author, James Vail, and we would like to thank him for allowing us to do so.

Inter-League Play and Post Season Qualification
James Vail

In the period since inter-league play began in 1998 there have been seven instances in which it might be argued that the comparative results of inter-league competition directly determined the outcome of various divisional races. Of course, it can always be argued as well that each of the outcomes displayed below would've been different if the second-place teams had only played better against in-league competition. Regardless, the seven incidents include the following.

1999 NL CENTRAL: Houston finished at 97-65 (.599), Cincinnati at 96-67 (.589), 1.5 games back. The Astros played 15 inter-league games, going 12-3 (.800), while the Reds played 12 games against AL competition, going 2-10 (.167). So, in NL-only games, Cincinnati was 89-59 (.601),good enough for a 3.5-game lead over Houston's 85-62 (.578). Houston's five inter-league opponents were the clubs in the AL Central, who combined for a 1999 record of 368-437 (.457). Cincinnati did not play the White Sox, but did play Detroit, KC, Minnesota and Cleveland, who combined for 293-351 (.455), so there was little difference in the relative strength of their inter-league schedules.

2000 NL EAST: Atlanta won the division at 95-67 (.586), one game ahead of New York, 94-68 (.580). The Braves were 11-7 (.611) in inter-league play, the Mets were 9-9 (.500). So New York was 85-59 (.590) against the NL, Atlanta was 84-60 (.583), one game worse. The Braves' inter-league slate included six home-and-away games against Boston, plus three against each of the other four AL East clubs. The combined record for those teams in 2000 was 398-410 (.493), or 483-487 (.498) if you count Boston's mark twice (because they played twice as many games against Atlanta as the others). The Mets played the same five clubs,with the only difference being that they had a 3-home,3-away series against the first-place Yankees instead of Boston. So the strength of their inter-league schedule was either identical to Atlanta's, or 485-484 (.501) if you count the Yanks twice.

2000 AL EAST: NY won the division at 87-74 (.540), with Boston second at 85-77 (.525). The Yanks were 11-6 (.747) in inter-league play, the Red Sox 9-9 (.500). So both teams finished with identical AL-only marks of 76-68 (.528). Their inter-league schedules were essentially the reciprocal of the Braves-Mets that year, with both clubs playing the full NL East, the Yanks playing six games against the Mets and the Bosox with six against Atlanta. The NL East teams combined for a 400-409 (.494) mark. Counting the Mets twice, that equates to a 494-477 (.509)against the Yankees. Counting Atlanta twice gives Boston opponents a 495-476 (.510) --- essentially a wash equity-wise.

2001 NL EAST: Atlanta won the division at 88-74 (.543), with Philadelphia second at 86-76 (.531). The Braves went 9-9 (.500) in inter-league play, the Phillies 7-11 (.389). That gave them identical 79-65 (.549) records against NL-only opponents. Atlanta played the same inter-league slate as in 2000, with six games against Boston, three apiece against the rest of the AL East. The Phils also played all five AL East teams, with their six-game, home-away set against Baltimore. The AL East that season played at 382-424 (.474) overall. Counting Boston tice gives Atlanta's inter-league opposition a 464-503 (.480) mark, while counting Baltimore twice puts the Phils' opponents at 445-522 (.460). So Philadelphia missed a chance to take advantage of a 20-point advantage in inter-league strength of schedule.

2001 NL CENTRAL: Houston and St. Louis tied for the division lead at 93-69 (.574) each, with the Astros awarded the division title based on tie-breaker criteria and the Cards earning the playoff wild-card. Houston was 9-6 (.600) in inter-league play, St. Louis 8-7 (.533). So the Cards had an NL-only record of 85-62 (.578) that was one game better than Houston's 84-63 (.571). Houston's inter-league slate included three games each against Cleveland, KC and Minnesota of the AL Central, plus a 3-home, 3-away series against AL West Texas. The Cards' played three games each against all five AL Central clubs, including the White Sox and Detroit. Houston's opposition played to a 314-334 (.485) mark, or 387-423 (.478) if you count Texas twice. St. Louis' inter-league opposition went 390-420 (.481). So the strength of their inter-league schedules was about equal, and which team enjoyed a small advantage depends on how you weight the Astros-Rangers series.

2002 NL WEST: This one is much more interesting. Arizona claimed the division title at 98-64 (.605), with SF second at 95-66 (.590), 2.5 games back. The D-Backs were 11-7 (.611) in inter-league play, the Giants 8-10 (.444). So SF's NL-only record of 87-56 (.608) was actually one-half game better than Arizona's 87-57 (.604). The D-Backs'
inter-league slate included three-game sets against four AL East clubs Baltimore, Boston, NY and Toronto) plus two AL Central teams (Detroit and Cleveland). The Giants also played the Orioles, Yankees and Toronto, but had a three-game set against Tampa Bay and a six-game, home-away series with cross-bay rival (and first-place) Oakland.

The two clubs' common inter-league opponents (the Yanks, Jays and O's) combined for a record of 248-237 (.511), and the separate, three-game series against Detroit (56-106) and Tampa (55-106) were essentially a wash. Both teams went 4-5 against their common IL opponents and 2-1 against Det-TB. So the difference in their inter-league marks came down to Az-v-Bos/Cle and SF-v-Oak. Arizona was 2-1 against the Indians and somehow swept the Red Sox at Fenway. SF could do no better than 2-4 against the A's. The D-Backs' inter-league opponents combined for an overall mark of 471-500 (.485). The Giants' opposition was 406-402 (.502), or 509-461 (.525) if you double-count Oakland. There seems to be little doubt in this instance that the inequity in the two clubs'
inter-league schedules (a 38.5-game difference when the A's are counted twice) was the determining factor in which team won the division. The irony, of course, is that SF claimed the wild-card spot anyway and then beat Atlanta, Arizona was eliminated by St. Louis in the NLDS, and the Giants went on to the World Series.

2002 AL WEST: Oakland won the division at 103-59 (.636), with Anaheim second at 99-63 (.611), four games back. Oakland posted an inter-league record of 16-2 (.889), the best-ever single-season mark to date for inter-league play (Atlanta's 15-3, .833 that same year ranks second-best). The Angels were 11-7 (.611) in inter-league games, exactly matching their full-season and AL-only percentages. The net result was that Anaheim's AL-only record of 88-56 (.611) was one game better than Oakland's 87-57 (.604). Beyond their six-game, home-away series against SF, Oakland's inter-league opponents included NL Central clubs Cincinnati, Houston, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh (three games each). Anaheim played a six-game, 3H-3A set against Los Angeles, and three games apiece against Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

So they shared three common IL opponents that combined for a 206-279 (.425) season record. Adding the Giants and Astros to the Oakland ledger gives their inter-league opposition an overall mark of 385-423 (.476), or 480-489 (.495) when SF is counted twice. Including St. Louis and the Dodgers in the Anaheim slate gives the Angels' inter-league opponents a record of 395-414 (.488), or 487-484 (..502) with LA double-counted. So Oakland benefitted from an inter-league slate that was either .012 or .007 easier than Anaheim's, but hardly enough to explain its five-game edge versus the Angels in inter-league play.

In addition to those seven instances, there have been two occasions when it could be argued that inter-league play determined the outcome of wild-card races. They include:

1999 NL: The Mets finished at 97-66 (.595) to claim the wild-card by a one-game margin over Cincinnati's 96-67 (.589). New York went 12-6(.667) in inter-league play, while the Reds were 7-8 (.467). So Cincinnati, at 89-59 (.601) actually enjoyed a 4.5-game, NL-only advantage over the Mets, who were 85-60 (.586) against teams in their own circuit. New York's inter-league schedule included a six-game, home-away series against the Yankees, and three games each against Baltimore, Boston, Tampa and Toronto. The Reds played a six-game, home-away series against cross-state rival Cleveland, plus three games each against Detroit, Kansas City and Minnesota --- so there were no common inter-league opponents. The Mets' IL opposition posted an overall season mark of 423-387 (.522), or 521-451 (.536) if the Yankees are double-counted. Cincinnati's inter-league opponents combined for an overall record of 293-351 (.455), or 390-416 (.484) if you count Cleveland twice. So the Reds clearly failed to capitalize on a distinct advantage in the relative strength of the two clubs' inter-league schedules.

2002 AL: Anaheim went 99-63 (.611) on the season, six games better than Boston's 93-69 (.574). The Angels were 11-7 (.611) in inter-league play, Boston at 5-13 (.278). So both clubs were 88-56 (.611) against AL-only competition. As described above, Anaheim's inter-league slate was six games against LA, three apiece versus the Reds, Brewers, Pirates and Cards. Boston played its usual six-game set with Atlanta, plus three games each against the Dodgers, Padres, Rockies and D-Backs. As noted earlier, the Angels' IL opponents posted a record of 395-414 (.488), or 487-484 (.502) if LA is double-counted. Boston's inter-league opposition came in at 430-378 (.532), or 531-437 (.549) if the Braves are counted twice. So inter-league play was the entire difference in the two teams' 2002 records, and there is no doubt that Anaheim enjoyed a huge advantage in the relative strengths of their IL schedules.

The seven division-race incidents described above represent 19.4 percent of the 36 divisional titles won in the period 1998-2003, and the two wild-card examples are 16.7 percent of the dozen WCs earned in that time. Combined, they equate to 18.8 percent of the 48 possible cases.

Obviously, I haven't had the numerous spare hours it would take to calculate the strength of schedule for the inter-league slates of every team since 1998. But in terms of inter-league schedule equity, the first three seasons of IL play (when most clubs merely competed against teams from the same division of the other league) could not have produced any truly dramatic inequities in strength of schedule. On a year-to-year basis, most divisions --- even the four-team AL West --- tend to include a relative balance of teams with winning and losing records that equates to something near a .500 mark for the division as a whole.

Based on the examples above, however, that pattern appears to have changed somewhat since the division-oriented schedule went into effect in 2001, and because --- in an effort to assure year-to-year variety in IL scheduling --- more teams are now playing inter-league slates that include clubs from at least two divisions (given the added constraints imposed by division-oriented scheduling, I assume both factors are related). As a result, it seems that larger and more frequent strength-of-schedule inequities in inter-league competition were predictable beginning with 2001, and should probably be expected to become even more frequent commensurate with additional variety in inter-league match-ups (I would also argue that the small --- and perhaps not statistically significant --- number of examples above are generally consistent with that analysis).

In that light, it seems apparent that the best way to minimize strength-of-schedule inequities in inter-league play is to utilize (much as possible) some format in which all teams in each division only play IL games against the clubs in one division of the other circuit in a season, and to avoid situations where some clubs are playing multiple teams from two or more different divisions in the other league. This could still be rotated on a yearly basis to ensure that big-draw teams like the Yankees appear in every city at least once every six seasons.

Beyond that, the simplest way to assure relative strength-of-schedule equity would be to dump inter-league play altogether. As a Sabermetrician, I find inter-league play to be something just short of a statistical nightmare, especially when trying to justify end-of-season data. As a fan, it's my subjective opinion that true competitive equity is far more important to the integrity and legitimacy of baseball as a product than the infrequent opportunity I may have under IL play to pay to see the Yankees come to Phoenix once every half-dozen years or so. Given the spread of cable television, I also believe that most fans in American League cities can see Barry Bonds being walked intentionally 12 times in a three-game set much better (and get a far clearer sense of his plus-plus skills at trotting to first base) on their televisions at home than they might from any seat most folks can afford to purchase at a ballpark.

All the same, there's no doubt that it's all about the money, and I am realistic enough to realize that as long as Bud Selig or anyone who thinks like an owner is commissioner there is no going back from where we are now. In that light, the onus is entirely on baseball management to do as much as possible to assure that competitive inequities in the context of inter-league play are minimized as much as possible. Sadly, I doubt that very many of the owners ever even give it a thought, possibly none.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Inter-League Play, Does it Effect League Leaders?

*** The following excerpt is taken from a SABR, Society for American Baseball Research, Internet discussion group and discusses the impact of Inter-League play on season leader races. Specifically, this piece deals with the Triple Crown categories of AVG.,HR and RBI for offense, and W, K an ERA for pitchers, and how the winning totals may have been influenced by Inter-League competition. This article is reproduced with permission of its author, James Vail, and we would like to thank him for allowing us to do so.

Inter-League Play and Triple-Crown Stats
James Vail

Although Albert Pujols and Bill Mueller are officially credited as the 2003 batting champions, it turns out that inter-league play was decisive in both incidents of victory. Pujols won the NL title at .359, with Colorado's Todd Helton second at .358. Pujols' full-season stats were 212 hits in 591 AB, but he hit .397 in inter-league play (31 for 78), leaving him with a .353 average against NL-only competition (181 for 513). Helton's season stats were 209 for 583, but his inter-league ledger (18 for 51) produced a .353 mark, makng his NL-only figure .359 (191 for 532), a point higher than Pujols' league-only performance.

Mueller led the AL for the full 2003 season, hitting .326 compared to teammate Manny Ramirez's .325 and Yankee Derek Jeter's .324. Mueller was 18-for-65 (.277) in inter-league play, while Ramirez went 19-for-61(.311) and Jeter 21-for-77 (.273). As a result, Mueller (153-for-459) and Jeter (135-for-405) were actually tied in AL-only competition at .333, while Ramirez trailed both at .327 (166-for-508).

Neither instance would be that big of a deal if they were isolated incidents. But I went back --- using the data available at and checked each of the six triple-crown statistical races (batting average, home runs and RBI for hitters, ERA, games won and strikeouts for pitchers) for the years 1998-2003, and, as fate has had it, 18 of the 72 cases involved (25 percent) have been determined by inter-league performance. In three of the instances --- the 2003 AL batting race noted above, plus the 1998 leaderships in games won for both leagues --- factoring out inter-league performance created ties for league-only leadership which do not exist in the official records (or, in one case, a different tie than the one currently recognized). The other 15 incidents all produced changes in circuit leadership for the triple-crown stat involved.

In addition to the two cases described above, a full list of these incidents includes the following, given chronologically:

1998 NL ERA: Greg Maddux was the official NL leader at 2.22, with Kevin Brown second at 2.38. But Maddux posted a 0.82 ERA in four inter-league contests, and his actual average against NL-only competition was 2.44. Brown had a 4.74 ERA in three inter-league games, while his mark against senior circuit opponents only was just 2.19. So Brown actually led against league-only opposition.

1998 NL GAMES WON: Tom Glavine won 20 contests for the season, compared to 19 for runner-up Kevin Tapani. Glavine's record in inter-league play was 2-0, with one no-decision, giving him 18 wins against NL opponents. Tapani pitched in three inter-league contests, winning one, losing another, with a no-decision in the third. So his also won 18 games against senior-circuit opponents, producing an NL-only tie.

1998 AL GAMES WON: Rick Helling, David Cone and Roger Clemens each won 20 contests for the season. But Cone won three games in inter-league play, giving him only 17 wins against AL clubs. Helling and Clemens both won just twice in inter-league competition, so their AL-only victory totals were 18 apiece.

1999 NL HOME RUNS: Mark McGwire topped the circuit with 65 homers, followed closely by Sammy Sosa at 63. McGwire's season total included six smacked in inter-league play, while Sosa had only two against AL opposition. So Sammy's NL-only total was actually 61, while McGwire's was just 59.

1999 NL ERA: Randy Johnson led the league with 2.48, with Kevin Millwood second at 2.68. But Johnson posted a 0.84 ERA in three inter-league games, and Millwod was at 4.50 in his three starts against American League teams. Millwood's NL-only ERA was 2.51, while Johnson's was 2.70.

1999 NL GAMES WON: Mike Hampton topped the NL with 22 wins, while Jose Lima won 21 for the season. Hampton's total included four inter-league victories, but Lima's only two. So Lima won 19 games against NL opponents, Hampton just 18.

2000 NL HOME RUNS: Sosa had 50 dingers for the season, runner-up Barry Bonds had 49. But Sosa had nine inter-league homers, while Bonds had seven. So Bonds actually had 42 in NL-only play, while Sosa had 41.

2000 AL GAMES WON: Officially, David Wells and Tim Hudson tied for the league leadership with 20 wins apiece. But two of Wells victories came in inter-league play, while Hudson won all his games against American League competition.

2001 NL RBI: Sosa had 160 RBI for the season, Todd Helton 146. Sosa had 20 ribbies in inter-league play, Helton just five. So Helton had 141 against NL-only competition, Sosa 140.

2001 NL GAMES WON: Curt Schilling and Matt Morris both had 22 wins for the year. But Schilling's ledger included two inter-league victories, while Morris had just one. So Morris won 21 against NL clubs, Schilling 20.

2001 AL ERA: Freddy Garcia posted a season ERA of 3.05, with runner-up Mike Mussina at 3.15. Garcia's four inter-league starts equated to1.78, while Mussina's five games against NL opponents produced a mark of 3.69. That left Mussina at 3.06 against AL-only opponents, and Garcia at 3.24.

2001 AL GAMES WON: Mark Mulder won 21 games for the season, with Jamie Moyer and Roger Clemens tied for second at 20 apiece. Mulder won four inter-league decisions, and Clemens won one. But all of Moyer's victories came against AL opposition, so his 20 league-only wins were better than Clemens' 19 and Mulder's 17.

2001 AL STRIKEOUTS: Hideo Nomo was the season leader at 220, with Mike Mussina second at 214 and Roger Clemens third with 213. Nomo and Mussina both had 22 inter-league strikeouts, and Clemens only 12. So Clemens led against AL-only competition with 201, while Nomo had 198 and Mussina 192.

2003 NL HOME RUNS: Jim Thome had 47 for the season, followed by Richie Sexson and Barry Bonds at 45 apiece. But Thome had six dingers in inter-league play, Bonds nine and Sexson just three. So the NL-only totals were Sexson 42, Thome 41 and Bonds 36.

2003 AL GAMES WON: Roy Halladay had 22 wins for the season, with Andy Pettitte, Jamie Moyer and Esteban Loaiza at 21 apiece. Halladay had three inter-league victories, Pettite and Moyer two each, and Loaiza just one. So Loaiza led with 20 wins against AL-only competition, while the other three pitchers all had 19.

2003 AL STRIKEOUTS: Loaiza had 207 Ks for the year, followed closely by Pedro Martinez at 206 and Halladay at 204. But Loaiza had 25 strikeouts in inter-league play, Halladay 26 and Martinez just 10. So Pedro topped the AL-only list with 196, followed by Loaiza with 182 and Halladay at 178. Apparently, in Loaiza's case, what inter-league play can take away, it can take away again in a different fashion.

Perhaps predictably, the most-affected statistic among the triple-crown categories was games won by pitchers (seven leadership changes among 12cases), where leadership is often determined by just one victory, and the least-affected was runs batted in (just one change in 12), where there is often a large gap between first and second place. Totals for the other triple-crown stats are: home runs and ERA, 3 of 12 each; batting average and Ks by pitchers, 2 of 12 apiece. Clearly, I have not had time to do a more thorough study (and don't plan one at the moment), but if inter-league play can alter 25 percent of triple-crown leaderships, it can easily change the outcomes of other statistical titles at an even higher rate, especially those (like hits, doubles, triples, saves, et al) in which the difference between first and second place is often small.

Beyond whatever "injustices" may or may not be perceived in all of the above, the rate at which inter-league play affects these outcomes is also important because league leaderships --- particularly those for triple-crown stats --- are a key determining factor in who wins the MVP and Cy Young trophies. Of the 168 MVPs awarded through 2003, 57 of them went to RBI leaders (33.9 percent), 41 to home run champs (24.4 percent)
and 31 to batting title winners (18.5 percent). Of the 86 Cy Young awards to date, 56 (65.1 percent) went to league leaders in games won, 29 (33.7 percent) to ERA champs, and 25 (29.1 percent) to strikeout leaders.

None of the 18 incidents cited above can be said to have seriously altered the outcome of MVP voting (although Bonds finished second to teammate Jeff Kent in a relatively close 2000 NL voting, and might have fared better had he been recognized as the circuit's home run champ --- not that he needed yet another trophy). In contrast, four of the dozen Cy Young awards given since 1998 were certainly influenced by the arguably "false" outcomes produced by inter-league results. Tom Glavine and Roger Clemens won the 1998 trophies, Randy Johnson won the NL version in 1999 and Roy Halladay won the AL award last season.

I'm not about to suggest that separate MVPs and CYAs should be given on the basis of league-only and full-season performance, as that would be absolutely stupid and baseball already has more than its share of stupidity in play at the moment. But there are obvious team-by-team variations in the relative quality of inter-league opponents which affect competitive balance as a whole, and I do think that the degree to which inter-league performance may --- perhaps unjustifiably --- alter perceptions about who is deserving of those trophies is very relevant to any discussion about the relative value and/or facility of inter-league play as a whole.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

HR % (Best ALL TIME, and 2003-1994 )


HR% illustrates the amount of at bats that result in a homerun.

EXAMPLE: Bonds in 2003 had 390 AB and 45 HR.
45/390= 11.54
11.54% of all of Bonds at bats in 2003 resulted in a HR.

* These totals are based on those hitters who accumulated 502 plate appearances, or enough to qualify for the batting crown.


1 Barry Bonds 2001 15.34
2 Mark McGwire 1998 13.75
3 Mark McGwire 1999 12.48
4 Mark McGwire 1996 12.29
5 Babe Ruth 1920 11.79
6 Barry Bonds 2003 11.54
7 Barry Bonds 2002 11.41
8 Babe Ruth 1927 11.11
9 Sammy Sosa 2001 11.09
10 Babe Ruth 1921 10.93
11 Jim Thome 2002 10.83
12 Mark McGwire 1997 10.74
13 Mickey Mantle 1961 10.51
14 Hank Greenberg 1938 10.43
15 Roger Maris 1961 10.34
16 Sammy Sosa 1998 10.26
17 Barry Bonds 2000 10.21
18 Sammy Sosa 1999 10.08
19 Babe Ruth 1928 10.07
20 Jimmie Foxx 1932 9.91
21 Ralph Kiner 1949 9.84
22 Mickey Mantle 1956 9.76
23 Hack Wilson 1930 9.57
24 Frank Thomas 1994 9.52
T25 Hank Aaron 1971 9.49
T25 Babe Ruth 1926 9.49


1 Barry Bonds 11.54
2 Jim Edmonds 8.72
3 Jim Thome 8.13
4 Alex Rodriguez 7.74
5 Sammy Sosa 7.74
6 Frank Thomas 7.69
7 Jason Giambi 7.66
8 Richie Sexson 7.43
9 Carlos Delgado 7.37
10 Albert Pujols 7.28
11 David Ortiz 6.92
12 Rafael Palmeiro 6.77
13 Gary Sheffield 6.77
14 Jeromy Burnitz 6.68
15 Mike Lowell 6.50
16 Manny Ramirez 6.50
17 Jeff Bagwell 6.45
18 Jose Guillen 6.39
19 Trot Nixon 6.35
20 Jorge Posada 6.24
21 Andruw Jones 6.05
22 Preston Wilson 6.00
23 Derrek Lee 5.75
24 Geoff Jenkins 5.75
25 Todd Helton 5.66


1 Barry Bonds 11.41
2 Jim Thome 10.83
3 Alex Rodriguez 9.13
4 Sammy Sosa 8.81
5 Rafael Palmeiro 7.88
6 Brian Giles 7.65
7 Manny Ramirez 7.57
8 Jason Giambi 7.32
9 Lance Berkman 7.27
10 Shawn Green 7.22
11 Mike Piazza 6.90
12 Carlos Delgado 6.53
13 Magglio Ordonez 6.44
14 Vladimir Guerrero 6.35
15 Pat Burrell 6.31
16 Andruw Jones 6.25
17 Ellis Burks 6.18
18 Mark Bellhorn 6.07
19 Jeff Kent 5.94
20 Jim Edmonds 5.88
21 Eric Chavez 5.81
22 Robin Ventura 5.81
23 Albert Pujols 5.76
24 Fred McGriff 5.74
25 Jay Gibbons 5.71


1 Barry Bonds 15.34
2 Sammy Sosa 11.09
3 Luis Gonzalez 9.36
4 Jim Thome 9.32
5 Todd Helton 8.35
6 Alex Rodriguez 8.23
7 Shawn Green 7.92
8 Rafael Palmeiro 7.83
9 Manny Ramirez 7.75
10 Larry Walker 7.65
11 Richie Sexson 7.53
12 Phil Nevin 7.51
13 Jason Giambi 7.31
14 Mike Piazza 7.16
15 Gary Sheffield 6.99
16 Troy Glaus 6.97
17 Carlos Delgado 6.79
18 Chipper Jones 6.64
19 Juan Gonzalez 6.58
20 Jeff Bagwell 6.50
21 Brian Giles 6.42
22 Jose Valentin 6.39
23 Ellis Burks 6.38
24 Albert Pujols 6.27
25 Jeromy Burnitz 6.05


1 Barry Bonds 10.21
2 Manny Ramirez 8.66
3 Gary Sheffield 8.58
4 Jason Giambi 8.43
5 Troy Glaus 8.35
6 Sammy Sosa 8.28
7 Jim Edmonds 8.00
8 Jeff Bagwell 7.97
9 Richard Hidalgo 7.89
10 Mike Piazza 7.88
11 David Justice 7.82
12 Vladimir Guerrero 7.71
13 Ken Griffey Jr. 7.69
14 Alex Rodriguez 7.40
15 Frank Thomas 7.39
16 Todd Helton 7.24
17 Carlos Delgado 7.21
18 Rafael Palmeiro 6.90
19 Carl Everett 6.85
20 Edgar Martinez 6.65
21 Jim Thome 6.64
22 Geoff Jenkins 6.64
23 Brad Fullmer 6.64
24 Tony Batista 6.61
25 Moises Alou 6.61


1 Mark McGwire 12.48
2 Sammy Sosa 10.08
3 Larry Walker 8.45
4 Manny Ramirez 8.43
5 Alex Rodriguez 8.37
6 Rafael Palmeiro 8.32
7 Greg Vaughn 8.18
8 Chipper Jones 7.94
9 Ken Griffey Jr. 7.92
10 Jose Canseco 7.91
11 Carlos Delgado 7.68
12 John Jaha 7.66
13 Mike Piazza 7.49
14 Brian Giles 7.49
15 Jeff Bagwell 7.47
16 Matt Stairs 7.16
17 Jeromy Burnitz 7.07
18 Juan Gonzalez 6.94
19 Vladimir Guerrero 6.89
20 Shawn Green 6.84
21 Dean Palmer 6.79
22 Jim Thome 6.68
23 Richie Sexson 6.47
24 Jay Bell 6.45
25 Fernando Tatis 6.33


1 Mark McGwire 13.75
2 Sammy Sosa 10.26
3 Ken Griffey Jr. 8.85
4 Greg Vaughn 8.73
5 Albert Belle 8.05
6 Andres Galarraga 7.93
7 Jose Canseco 7.89
8 Manny Ramirez 7.88
9 Juan Gonzalez 7.43
10 Carlos Delgado 7.17
11 Vinny Castilla 7.13
12 Javier Lopez 6.95
13 Rafael Palmeiro 6.95
14 Jim Thome 6.82
15 Barry Bonds 6.70
16 Mo Vaughn 6.57
17 Moises Alou 6.51
18 Ken Caminiti 6.42
19 Jeff Bagwell 6.30
20 Jeromy Burnitz 6.24
21 Eric Davis 6.19
22 Alex Rodriguez 6.12
23 Vladimir Guerrero 6.10
24 Dean Palmer 5.94
25 Jeff Kent 5.89


1 Mark McGwire 10.74
2 Ken Griffey Jr. 9.21
3 Larry Walker 8.63
4 Jim Thome 8.06
5 Juan Gonzalez 7.88
6 Jeff Bagwell 7.60
7 Barry Bonds 7.52
T8 Jay Buhner 7.41
T8 Tino Martinez 7.41
T10 Todd Hundley 7.19
T10 Mike Piazza 7.19
12 Andres Galarraga 6.83
13 Paul Sorrento 6.78
T14 David Justice 6.67
T14 Ray Lankford 6.67
16 Mo Vaughn 6.64
17 Frank Thomas 6.60
18 Vinny Castilla 6.54
19 Chili Davis 6.29
20 Rafael Palmeiro 6.19
21 Carlos Delgado 5.78
22 Tim Salmon 5.67
23 Sammy Sosa 5.61
24 Tony Clark 5.52
25 Jeromy Burnitz 5.47

SEASON- 1996

1 Mark McGwire 12.29
2 Ken Griffey Jr. 8.99
3 Juan Gonzalez 8.69
4 Brady Anderson 8.64
5 Barry Bonds 8.12
6 Gary Sheffield 8.09
7 Sammy Sosa 8.03
8 Albert Belle 7.97
9 Greg Vaughn 7.95
10 Jay Buhner 7.80
11 Todd Hundley 7.59
12 Frank Thomas 7.59
13 Jim Thome 7.52
14 Andres Galarraga 7.51
15 Ken Caminiti 7.33
16 Mo Vaughn 6.93
17 Terry Steinbach 6.81
18 Henry Rodriguez 6.77
19 Cecil Fielder 6.60
20 Mike Piazza 6.58
21 Dean Palmer 6.53
22 Ellis Burks 6.53
23 Ryan Klesko 6.44
24 Barry Larkin 6.38
25 Vinny Castilla 6.36


1 Albert Belle 9.16
2 Jay Buhner 8.51
3 Frank Thomas 8.11
4 Mickey Tettleton 7.46
5 Larry Walker 7.29
6 Mo Vaughn 7.09
7 Rafael Palmeiro 7.04
8 Dante Bichette 6.91
9 Gary Gaetti 6.81
10 Barry Bonds 6.52
11 Manny Ramirez 6.40
12 Sammy Sosa 6.38
13 Tim Salmon 6.33
14 Cecil Fielder 6.28
15 Vinny Castilla 6.07
16 Tino Martinez 5.97
17 Jim Edmonds 5.91
18 Eric Karros 5.81
19 Reggie Sanders 5.79
20 Edgar Martinez 5.68
21 Andres Galarraga 5.60
22 Jim Thome 5.53
23 Robin Ventura 5.28
24 John Valentin 5.19
T25 Ray Lankford 5.18
T25 Jeff Conine 5.18

*Based 357 PA
(derived from 3.1 PA times 115 games. Because of the strike,
a full season was not played in 1994)

1 Jeff Bagwell 9.75
2 Kevin Mitchell 9.68
3 Matt Williams 9.66
4 Frank Thomas 9.52
5 Barry Bonds 9.46
6 Ken Griffey Jr. 9.24
7 Albert Belle 8.74
8 Gary Sheffield 8.39
9 Fred McGriff 8.02
10 Bob Hamelin 7.69
11 Andres Galarraga 7.43
12 Jose Canseco 7.23
13 Kirk Gibson 6.97
14 Chili Davis 6.63
15 Mo Vaughn 6.60
16 Cecil Fielder 6.59
17 Jim Thome 6.23
18 Joe Carter 6.21
19 Tim Salmon 6.17
20 Tino Martinez 6.08
21 Mike Piazza 5.93
22 Sammy Sosa 5.87
23 Jay Buhner 5.87
24 Chris Hoiles 5.72
25 Paul O'Neill 5.71

Monday, June 14, 2004

The History of the SAVE

Baseball Perspectives
Jerome Holtzman

How the Save Formula Began

Alan Schwarz of Baseball America, a very capable writer, called the other day. He is doing a book on baseball statistics and asked about the pitching save for relief pitchers. The save is the first new major stat since runs batted in was adopted in 1920.

Schwarz wanted to know some of the history and specifically if I invented the save. So I told him the story. I didn't invent it. What I did was create the first formula for the save. The term "save" had been in use as far back as 1952, five years before I started covering baseball.

Three club executives, two of them statisticians, were the pioneers: Jim Toomey of the Cardinals, Alan Roth of the Dodgers and Irv Kaze of the Pirates. They recorded saves but there was only one criterion. A reliever who finished a winning game but was not credited with the victory was given a save. The final score didn't matter. It could be 12-1 or 2-1.

They listed their tabulations on the team's daily statistical sheets but it was largely ignored, like games finished. I don't recall ever seeing a save mentioned in a game story.

I became involved in May 1960. I was in St. Louis with the Cubs and wrote the rule while I was on the team bus (for a night game) while it was parked outside the Chase Hotel. Lou Boudreau, then a Cub announcer, was in the seat behind me. I showed it to him for his approval. He said it was a good idea.

At that time the Cubs had a strong righty-lefty bullpen tandem of Don Elston and Bill Henry. They were constantly protecting leads for the starting pitchers but went unnoticed outside of Chicago. I did it with them in mind. I thought they should get more credit.

The year before, in 1959, Elroy Face of the Pirates was the rage. Face was 18-1 in relief. It was and still is generally acknowledged as the greatest season for anyone coming out of the bullpen. The 18 victories in relief is still the Major League record.

I was suspicious and checked the scorebook of a Pittsburgh beat writer and discovered that 10 of Face's wins came after he had given up the tying or lead run. In effect, they were blown saves. The Pirates had a strong hitting team, known as the Pittsburgh Lumber Co., and took Face off the hook with late-inning rallies. Because he was the pitcher of record he got the win. There is no other way a reliever can win 18 games.

The year before, in 1958, Face had a better year. He had a 5-2 won-loss record. But if my system had been in effect, he would have had 26 saves, which probably would have led the league. In those days the only important stat for a reliever was his earned-run average, and even that wasn't an accurate measure of his effectiveness because, then as now, many of the runs scored against him are charged to the previous pitcher. Generally, a relievers' ERA should be 1.00 lower than a starter.

I was then a correspondent for The Sporting News and wrote a letter to J.G. Taylor Spink, its editor and publisher, and enclosed my saves formula. Spink jumped on it. He gave me a $100 or a $200 bonus. I don't remember which but I do recall him telling me I should be sure to call him if I had any other ideas. I have been barren ever since.

In the original formula there were four basic requirements. Foremost, the reliever had to face the tying run. It went into effect in 1960. The next year the rule was relaxed; the tying run had to be on deck. It has been modified several times since but is essentially the same.

The first winners were Lindy McDaniel of the Cardinals in the National League and Mike Fornieles of the Red Sox in the American.

One point was given for a save and one point for a win in relief. It was a mistake. Two points should have been given for a save, which I've always believed is twice as good as a victory. McDaniel finished with 33 points, 21 saves and 12 wins. Fornieles had 19 points, nine saves and 10 wins.

The first public mention of my formula was made in the July 27, 1960 issue of The Sporting News. The Sporting News announced it had adopted the save as its invention and thereafter would award annual Fireman trophies to the top relievers in each league.

The reaction was positive. There were no naysayers. Bill Veeck, then the president of the White Sox, said, "The relief pitchers have too long been ignored. They should be given more statistical credit." Looking ahead, Veeck prophesized the save would upgrade the salary of relief pitchers because of the "attendant promotion and publicity."

At the time I was aware it was an important contribution but I never realized the save, as Veeck predicted, would have much of an impact, especially on salaries. It never occurred to me. Today, more than 40 years later, relievers are among baseball's superstars. I haven't kept count but I imagine at least a dozen closers have annual earnings in excess of $5 million.

For the next nine years, from 1960 through 1968, I wrote a brief weekly story charting the league leaders. I was appointed the chairman of a committee formed by the Baseball Writers Association for the purpose of convincing the Scoring Rules Committee to recognize the save as an official stat. Recognition came in 1969. I then bowed out and have not been involved since.

It is now almost impossible to win without a strong bullpen. With each passing season, relievers have grown in importance. On a traditional 10-man pitching staff, usually half are in the bullpen. There are now long men, middle men, setup men and closers. As Whitey Herzog, who managed championship teams in St. Louis and Kansas City, observed, "Give me a good bullpen and I'll be a good manager. Give me a great bullpen and I'll be a great manager."

Jerome Holtzman is the official historian for Major League Baseball. In 1993 he became the only non-relief pitcher to receive the Rolaids Career Achievement Award. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Radio Appearance Wrap Up

Last night, well actually this morning, ended up being a great success. Thanks to those of you who braved the late night to listen, we all greatly appreciate it. If you still would like to send in a donation, please do so to the following address:

Office of Development
ATT: Sharon Hanna
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH, 43403
*On the Memo please also include: Carol Morris Scholarship Fund, 30-000812

We’ll be updating WILDPITCH on a semi- daily basis, so don’t forget to check back in for facts, stats an opinions.


PS There should be an archive up for your listening if you missed it at:
under LIFE'S A PITCH MARATHON (My interview begins around the 3:30 mark)

Friday, June 11, 2004

1984-2003 Cy Young...SWIP



1.42 2003 Gagne
1.29 1999 Pedro
1.21 1995 RJ
1.21 2001 RJ
1.16 2000 Pedro
1.09 2000 RJ
1.08 1999 RJ
1.03 1992 ECK
1.01 2002 RJ
0.97 1997 Pedro
0.87 1996 Smoltz
0.85 1986 Scott
0.85 1997 Clemens
0.75 1995 Maddux
0.72 1985 Gooden
0.69 1998 Clemens
0.66 1989 M.Davis
0.65 1991 Clemens
0.65 2003 Halladay
0.64 2001 Clemens
0.64 1986 Clemens
0.62 1994 Maddux
0.61 1987 Clemens
0.57 1989 Sabrhagen
0.54 1988 Viola
0.54 1993 Maddux
0.54 1984 W.Herndez
0.52 1984 Sutcliffe
0.52 1987 Bedrosian
0.51 1985 Sabrhagen
0.50 1991 Glavine
0.48 1992 Maddux
0.45 1994 Cone
0.45 2002 Zito
0.39 1988 Hershiser
0.36 1998 Glavine
0.35 1993 McDowell
0.32 1990 Drabek
0.31 1996 Hentgen
0.21 1990 Welch

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

SWIP_2001-2003 Totals

SWIP...Calculated by: Strikeouts - Walks / IP

3 YEAR 2001-2003
(Minimum 150 IP)

*CAPS = relief pitcher
(ALL figures are rounded off to two decimal points)

1.06 R.Johnson
1.02 Schilling
0.99 Pedro
0.95 GAGNE
0.93 Prior
0.88 DOTEL
0.76 MARTE
0.72 Santana
0.70 Redman
0.70 KIM
0.70 Mussina
0.70 Vazquez
0.69 IZZY
0.69 Oswalt
0.69 Wood
0.67 Schmidt
0.67 RISKE
0.66 Clemens
0.65 Beckett
0.59 Brown
0.58 Pettitte
0.58 GROOM
0.58 Webb
0.57 Halladay
0.54 Wolf
0.54 SHUEY
0.53 Morris
0.52 FROD SF
0.50 MOTA
0.49 Lilly
0.49 OdalisPerez
0.48 Miller
0.48 Wakefield
0.48 Maddux
0.48 Loaiza
0.47 Milton
0.47 REED
0.47 Reed
0.47 Mulder
0.47 Clement
0.47 Eaton
0.46 Nomo
0.46 Millwood
0.46 VERES
0.45 W.Williams
0.44 Sheets
0.44 Radke
0.44 Burkett
0.43 WHITE
0.43 Garcia
0.43 Leiter
0.42 Zito
0.42 Colon
0.42 Penny
0.42 BAEZ
0.42 Hudson
0.41 D.Wells
0.40 Burnett
0.40 Pineiro
0.39 Sheilds
0.39 Thompson
0.39 Armas
0.38 Lawrence
0.37 Person
0.37 Appier
0.37 Lidle
0.37 KING
0.37 Lohse
0.37 Towers
0.36 NUNEZ
0.36 Padilla
0.36 Sabathia
0.36 Jarvis
0.36 Moyer
0.36 Washburn
0.33 Ponson
0.33 Lowe
0.32 Trachsel
0.30 Beurhle
0.30 Batista
0.29 R.Franklin
0.26 RussOrtiz
0.24 Anderson
0.24 Graves
0.24 WEBER
0.23 KLINE
0.23 Hentgen
0.18 Mays

LINKS: Web Addresses for Stories












SWIP vs. WHIP, a reveiw of a "new" stat to measure a pitchers effectiveness. SWIP takes into account a pitchers strikeouts and walks to derive a formula that expressess his individual effectiveness.









PART II Pitching).

Gagne and the Closer

Eric Gagne and the Role of the Closer
Ray Flowers

Lets look at the following group of players…can you pick out Eric Gagne’s CY Young Season of 2003?

74 77.1 69 15 75 9 3 16 1.86
78 79 51 33 83 12 4 26 2.96
77 82.1 37 20 137 2 3 11 1.20
72 86.2 57 20 88 9 1 20 2.08
76 105 78 26 99 6 3 23 1.97

We would hazard the guess that if one were to ignore the K column, or the ERA column, one would have a difficult time pointing out Gagne’s season (and look at the Earned Run column…a 5 or 9 run difference…are those seasons really that different?). Those on the list are, in order: LaTroy Hawkins, Nathan, GAGNE, Keith Foulke, and Gagne’s teammate Guillermo Mota. Granted, Gagne was fantastic in his role of closer in 2003, but was Gagne’s season really that valuable in the context of the others? The question basically becomes one of what is the value of a closer? To answer that question we must look at it in two ways, (PART ONE) for the fantasy player; and (PART TWO) for the professional team.


In fantasy baseball the steal and the save are king. No one can argue with that logic because of the “scarcity” of the stat. So, lets look at the save totals for the five players listed above: Hawkins 0, Nathan 0, Gagne 55, Foulke 43, Mota 1 (look at that again…Gagne has a total of 55 but the Big Four would have totaled 44…a difference of only 11).

Is too much spent too early in most drafts on closers? The answer is of course YES. For what it would have cost you to purchase Gagne last year, lets be kind and say $35…for that same $35 you could most assuredly purchased Nathan, Hawkins, Mota AND Foulke (since he was coming off a down year with the White Sox). So would your pitching staff have benefited more from Gagne’s 2 wins and 55 saves -or- from the 36 Wins AND 44 Saves that foursome of RP’s would have provided. Think about that…36 Wins…that’s like having Mark Prior and Greg Maddux on your staff and still ending up 2 wins short!

What about the “other” stats you say?

K’s- Gagne: 137 Big Four: 345
Whip- Gagne: 0.69 Big Four: 1.00
ERA- Gagne: 1.20 Big Four: 2.20

The question then becomes one of innings. Yes, Gagne would have only taken up 82 innings, or less than 7% of the standard total in most leagues (assuming that total to be 1250 Innings). On the other hand our Big Four would have totaled 348 innings or roughly 28% of your teams innings…is the trade worth it? In my opinion the answer is an unqualified YES.

Earlier we mentioned Prior and Maddux…what were their combined stats from last year?
34-17, 369 K, 3.20 ERA, 1.14 Whip in 429.2 innings.

Let’s Compare:
Gagne: 2-3, 137, 1.20, 0.69 in 82.1 innings.
Big Four: 36- 11, 345, 2.20, 1.00 in 348 innings

(And remember, there is pretty much no way you would have been able to buy Prior AND Maddux for our baseline total of $35 in most leagues last year)

So the Big Four outperform Prior and Maddux and you would have SAVED 81 innings!

On the other hand the Big Four vs. Gagne would yield you the following totals:
Sure your ERA/Whip would be higher (negligibly because of the gross total of innings), and you would end up 11 saves short. But is that trade really worth it? 34 more wins and 208 more K’s from the Big Four more than makes up for a mere 11 saves doesn’t it? I mean, an ERA of 2.20 and a whip of 1.00 in 348 innings…that’s like having Pedro Martinez AND Curt Schilling last year! (In fact there total would have been an ERA of 2.57 and a whip of 1.04 which is actually worse than the Big Four!… plus they would have set you back around $65 in most leagues last year).

After all of the above lets consider one last point. The following pitchers could all have been had last year for under $5: F. Cordero, S. Hasegawa, L. Carter, M. MacDougal, R. Biddle, J. Borowski, D. Kolb and R. Beck. What do they all have in common? The all saved at least 15 games, and for mere peanuts of ones budget.

So was Gagne’s save total of 55 really worth $35? I think we have laid out a persuasive argument that it wasn’t. Is Gagne more of a “sure bet” than the Big Four, or any group of RP’s for that matter in the upcoming year? Of course he is. But why not take the chance by choosing a “lesser” closer (perhaps Joe Borowski, Matt Mantei or Aquilino Lopez) and a group of steady but underappreciated middle relievers (Francisco Rodriguez, Paul Quantrill, Felix Rodriguez, Matt Herges, Tom Gordon, Scott Williamson, Damaso Marte or Brendan Donnelly for example)? Now I’m not saying forsake the save column and go with a bunch of middle relievers, just be smart about it and keep your eye out for the “lesser name” closers out there… its not only the “big names” that produce. Think about it on draft day, an extra 30 Wins and 200 K’s would be like adding Cy Young himself to your team!


Three outs…

The closer of today is responsible, in a majority of cases, for three outs. Only rarely do we see a closer stretched beyond that magic three outs (an example of this is Mariano Rivera who routinely pitches 2 innings in the playoffs for the Yankess). But are the last three outs really that important?

Would you rather have Jason Schmidt or Eric Gagne if you were the owner of a major league team in 2003? Lets compare.

Gagne 77 82.1 37 20 137 2 3 11 1.20 0.69

Schmidt 29 07.1 152 46 208 17 5 54 2.34 0.95

Your first reaction is probably to say you can’t compare the two; well let’s try anyway. We can easily see that Gagne’s K rate was much higher than Schmidt (15 to 9 per 9 innings) and we can also see that Gagne’s ERA is almost half of Schmidt’s. The real question is which pitcher is more valuable to their team? Lets look at this question another way.

Gagne pitched roughly 40% of the innings that Schmidt did in 2003. Would you rather have someone pitch an inning every other game, or a pitcher throw 7 innings every 5 days? Another way to look at it: If Gagne does his job, he gets 3 outs. When Schmidt is asked to do his, he get 21 outs. So who is more important to the success of the team? The guy who pitches 80% of the game or the guy who pitches 12%?

Three outs…

To state it another way, who depends on whom in this situation? If Schmidt pitches badly, if the defense fields poorly, if the offense fails to hit, Gagne’s job is irrelevant. It’s ONLY when the other factors of the team come together that Gagne fills an important role. Gagne can come in and get his three outs, but if Schmidt gives up 6 runs, and his offense is limited to 2 runs, Gagne appearance does nothing to enhance his teams chance of winning. Gagne merely gets his three outs and the score is 6 to 2 instead of something worse. Therefore, no pitching stat is as dependent on the rest of the team as the save category.

Why is it that Gagne was anointed with the Cy Young award last season by in effect being given credit for his teams ability to put in him a position to get three outs, when the exact opposite was true of Jason Schmidt? Schmidt wasn’t as highly valued in the Cy Young vote despite being the unquestioned ace of a team that won its division and 100 games. The general consensus as to why this was is that he “only” won 17 games (never mind the fact that Schmidt led the league in ERA, WHIP and batting avg. against). In essence, Schmidt was punished because of the failure of his teammates, whereas Gagne was rewarded for the success of his (or failure if you realize that one of the main reasons Gagne had so many opportunities to produce saves was because of the Dodgers pathetic offense which couldn’t generate any runs). Gagne was a dominant reliever no question, but if you remove the save category a teammate of Gagne’s had arguably as good a year.
G. Mota 76 105 78 23 26 99 6 3 1 1.97 0.99

Now there isn’t a person on the planet who feels that Guillermo Mota deserved the Cy Young is there?

Even if we compare the reliever who began the current trend of closers, how much better was Gagne in 2003?

D. Eckersley 63 73.1 41 5 4 73 4 2 48 0.61 0.61
Eric Gagne 77 82.1 37 11 20 137 2 3 55 1.20 0.69
Eck was “only” 48 for 51 in saves that year, but weren’t his other stats as good or better than Gagne’s (except for K’s)? An ERA of half, and heck, even Gagne’s microscopic WHIP of 0.69 was beaten by Eck’s at 0.61!

And this brings us to the next issue, and that is the role of the relief pitcher. Below is a list of a few of the memorable relief seasons of the past 40 years:

Goose Gossage 72 133 78 49 151 11 9 26 1.62 0.95
63 134.1 87 59 122 10 11 27 2.01 1.09

Dan Quisenberry 72 136.2 126 12 46 9 7 35 2.57 1.01
69 139 118 11 48 5 3 45 1.94 0.93

Bruce Sutter 62 107.1 69 23 129 7 3 31 1.34 0.86

John Hiller 65 125.1 89 39 124 10 5 38 1.44 1.02

Dick Radatz 66 132.1 94 51 162 15 6 25 1.97 1.09

Eric Gagne 77 82.1 37 20 137 2 3 55 1.20 0.61

A quick glance of the stats reveals that Gagne pitched in the most games of any reliever on this list. This leads to a rather astonishing second observation: despite pitching more games than anyone on this list, Gagne still pitched anywhere from 25 to 57 innings less than the above “greatest hits” relievers! In fact the average total of innings pitched for all the relievers on this list, excluding Gagne, yields an average of 129 innings in comparison to Gagne’s 82…a difference of over 45%! So if you had the choice between a pitcher who was just as effective over almost 50 more innings wouldn’t you take him?

Granted this isn’t fair to Gagne, the game is different today than it was in the past, and he shouldn’t be punished for that, but was he really that valuable last year because he didn’t blow a save? Did he actually deserve the Cy Young because he was perfect in save situations?

Three outs…

Let take this comparison to starting pitchers… which of the following 2003 seasons was more valuable?

Halladay 36 266 253 96 32 204 22 7 3.25 1.07

Mulder 26 186.2 180 65 40 128 15 9 3.13 1.18

Based on innings pitched, Halladay to Mulder is roughly the same percentage as our “greatest hits” seasons to Gagne. The difference is much easier to see when we relate it to starting pitchers isn’t it?

So Gagne had a great season in 2003, and his “perfect” conversion rate of 100% in save situations might never broken. But as we have discussed, his saves were the result of his teammates putting him in a position to gain the one stat that makes his 2003 season “historic”…the save. And frankly, while the rest of his stats are truly great, they aren’t nearly as stupendous as his pundits would have you believe because ultimately his greatness depends entirely upon the position his teammates put him in.

Three outs…

The Origins of Baseball?

Mass. Town May Have Earliest Baseball Law
Tue May 11, 4:22 PM ET
By ADAM GORLICK, Associated Press Writer

PITTSFIELD, Mass. - Officials and historians in this western Massachusetts city released a 213-year-old document Tuesday that they believe is the earliest written reference to baseball.

The evidence comes in a 1791 bylaw that aims to protect the windows in Pittsfield's new meeting house by prohibiting anyone from playing baseball within 80 yards of the building. That bylaw would have been produced well before Abner Doubleday is said to have written the rules for the game in 1839.

Historian John Thorn was doing research on the origins of baseball when he found a reference to the bylaw in an 1869 book on Pittsfield's history.
He shared his find with former major leaguer and area resident Jim Bouton, who told city officials about the ordinance.

A librarian found the actual document in a vault at the Berkshire Athenaeum library. Its age was authenticated by researchers at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center.
"It's clear that not only was baseball played here in 1791, but it was rampant," Thorn said. "It was rampant enough to have an ordinance against it."

The long-accepted story of baseball's origins centers around Cooperstown, N.Y., where Doubleday is said to have come up with the rules for the modern game. That legend long legitimized the Baseball Hall of Fame's presence in Cooperstown, although later evidence pointed to the first real game being played in Hoboken, N.J., in 1846.

In 2001, a librarian at New York University came across two newspaper articles published on April 25, 1823, that show an organized form of a game called "base ball" was being played in Manhattan. The Pittsfield group hopes their find puts to rest the debate about the game's origins. "Pittsfield is baseball's Garden of Eden," Mayor James Ruberto said.

But experts say it may be impossible to say exactly where and when baseball was created because it evolved from earlier games, such as cricket and rounders, another English game played with a bat and ball. "There's no way of pinpointing where the game was first played," said Jeff Idelson, a spokesman for the Hall of Fame. "Baseball wasn't really born anywhere."

Still, Idelson said if the Pittsfield group's document is authentic, it would be "incredibly monumental." Pittsfield might be a sensible home for the sport. Some historians have documented "the Massachusetts game" as a precursor to modern baseball, where runners were thrown out if they were hit by a ball.

Bouton, whose decade-long career as a pitcher included stints with the New York Yankees (news) and Houston Astros (news), lives in nearby Egremont and is helping to restore Pittsfield's Wahconah Park, the former home of several minor league teams. He hopes the discovery helps bring attention to the project. "We thought this was a lucky stroke," said Bouton, whose 1970 book "Ball Four" offered a scandalous look behind the scenes of professional baseball. "I'm sure Pittsfield will live off this for a while."
For now, the document will be kept in a vault until city officials figure out how to properly display it. A copy will be hung at Wahconah Park, one of the nation's oldest ballparks.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ruth vs. Bonds, Who is the Greatest?

The Bambino; The Greatest of All-Time
Ray Flowers

Who is the greatest player ever? Some say Ted Williams, but of course he was much more of a hitter than a player. Others say Willie Mays, and for all around excellence he seems to be a great choice. But of the modern day player 3 names are always mentioned: Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr.. Griffey has been too injured the past three years to really belong in this discussion, and while Arod is a tremendous ballplayer, his career is just too short at this point to be considered the best ever. So of all the current players we would say that Barry Bonds is the most likely choice for a discussion of the greatest player ever (see Laura Nist’s article on this topic: But before we anoint Mr. Bonds we would like to throw out the name of the greatest ballplayer who ever lived… George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

Barry LaMar Bonds, by fantasy standards, is one of the greatest player ever (though a strong case in this respect can also be made for Rickey Henderson). No one has ever combined power and speed like Bonds, i.e. the oft repeated fact that he is the only member of the 500 HR and 500 steal club (in fact no others have even entered the 400/400 club). Bonds has also won 8 Gold Gloves, an unprecedented 6 MVP’s, and set all-time single season records for HR’s (73), on-base average (.582) and slugging percentage (.863). his greatness is beyond question…the question is how does he compare to the Babe?

Babe Ruth revolutionized the game of baseball. During the dead-ball era where double digit HR’s were unheard of, out came the strapping young man from Baltimore to re-write the record books. His total of 714 HR’s was a record for 40 years until Hank Aaron finally broke it in 1974. We all know that its just a matter of time before Bonds eclipse’s Ruth’s 714 career HR’s (he currently sits at 659, one behind Mays for third all-time), but how do the accomplishments of each player stand in their own eras?

If one looks at the career of Bonds one sees that he has lead the majors in homers but twice: 46 (1993) and 73 (2001). In fact, Bonds has led the majors in the Triple Crown categories of average , HR, and RBI on just these 2 instances. The Babe? Well he led the majors in homers 11 times! He also led in the majors in the Triple Crown categories, ready for this… a total of 17 times! Now if that wasn’t impressive enough, wait until you read the charts below. First we will list the HR total for Ruth, followed by the next highest player and his total.

1919 Ruth 29 / 12 Cravath

1920 Ruth 54 / 19 Sisler

1921 Ruth 59 / 24 Meusel/K.Williams

1922 Ruth 35 / 42 Hornsby

1923 Ruth 41 / 29 K.Williams

1924 Ruth 46 / 27 Hauser

1926 Ruth 47 / 21 Hack Wilson

1927 Ruth 60 / 47 Gehrig

1928 Ruth 54 / 31 H.Wilson/Bottomley

1929 Ruth 46 / 43 Klein

1930 Ruth 49 / 56 H.Wilson

1931 Ruth 46 / 46 Gehrig

1932 Ruth 41 / 58 Foxx

*In 1922 Ruth was injured and only played 110 games.
* In 1925 Ruth was “injured” and played in only 98 games.

So in the following years Ruth more than DOUBLED his next closest pursuer: 1919, 1920, 1921, and 1926. That means that Bonds, in his own era, would have to effectively hit 100 homers a year to be comparatively as great as Ruth. In fact, in 2001 when Bonds hit his record 73, his next closest pursuer was Sammy Sosa with 64…meaning Bond would have had to hit 128 HR’s to double his closest challenger.

Want more proof about the prodigious nature of the Sultan of Swat’s HR records? Here is a table which list Ruth’s total followed by the highest TEAM total for the same season (of course not including the teams that Ruth played for).

1919 Ruth 29 / 42 Phil.
1920 Ruth 54 / 64 Phil.
1921 Ruth 59 / 88 Phil.

Yes that’s right, in 1920 Ruth hit more homers than any other American League team! Take a look, in 1919,1921 he wasn’t that far behind either. The average team hits about 175 homers in our era so lets see Bonds would have to hit…well you can do the math so I won’t even waste my time with that calculation.

How about a comparison of career stats in the traditional 5 categories used in fantasy baseball. These career totals are in the following number of at-bats, lest you think one has the advantage over the other:
Bonds 8725, Ruth 8399.

Avg. HR RBI Runs SB
Bonds .297 659 1742 1941 500
Ruth .342 714 2213 2174 123

A last comparison between the two, lets look at their career OBP and SLG marks, the very marks that make Bonds a legendary performer.

Bonds .433 / .602
Ruth .474 / .690

Still think Ruth isn’t the greatest player of all-time? Oh you could say Bonds was a much better fielder and an immeasurably better baserunner, but we have left out one major category…pitching. And we aren’t talking about the state of pitching in the different eras. Oh yeah that’s right didn’t the Babe pitch? Well actually, he did more than that (his stats from 1915-1918).

18 8 2.44 (2.78) 1.15
23 12 1.75 (2.75) 1.07
24 13 2.01 (2.58) 1.08
13 7 2.22 (2.69) 1.05
* Number in ( ) in the ERA column is the League average for ERA.
* He also pitched over 300 innings in 1916-1917.

For his career Ruth went 94-46, with 4 saves, an ERA of 2.28 and a WHIP of 1.16 in 1221.1 innings (for a modern day comparison think Tim Hudson: 80-33, 3.26, 1.21 in 1052 innings). So in essence Ruth was Bonds AND Hudson in his career…think about that…he was an all-star performer pitching AND hitting.

We have no doubt that there will be some out there that don’t buy what we’re selling, and that’s alright.

However, we think that we have laid out ample proof that the Babe Ruth is not merely the penultimate figure in American sports history, he is also the greatest player ever to lace up a pair of spikes. Sure arguments can be offered for players such as Bonds an Arod, but have either of these players changed the game the way that Ruth did? Has anyone ever dominated the sport both on the mound AND in the batters box? Let us know when Barry Bonds turns in his bat for the pitchers mound and makes a couple of all-star teams. When he does get back to us and we’ll consider him. Til then, remember the man all the great ones should be compared to, George Herman “Babe” Ruth.