Posted by John Autin on June 29, 2011
[Please humor me for a moment; I'll get to the point shortly.]
Here's a fun exercise with the Play Index: Try to find a game where both starting pitchers had the exact same basic box score line of IP, H, R, BB and SO. Here's a step-by-step guide for doing that search:
(To skip the search and see the results for a certain pitching line that I selected at random, click here.)
- In the Play Index, under Game Finder, choose "Player Pitching."
- Set the first option to "Find Number of Players Matching Criteria in a Game."
- Set "Pitcher's Role" = "Starter."
- Under "Select Additional Criteria," set each of the first 4 fields to one of the 5 basic stats (IP, H, R, BB or SO), and equal to any number you may choose.
- Set the 5th field (the relational field) for the remaining stat, and set it equal to 1.0 * [one of the other 4 stats]. This is a workaround to get a limited 5-stat search from a 4-field form.
- Leave the years at the default of "1919-2011."
- Click "Get Report."
When the results come up, look in the "#Matching" column. Does the first entry show "2"? I'll guess that it didn't. No matter what stats you choose, the odds are that you won't find any game where both starting pitchers had the exact same basic pitching line. It's very rare.
Now do another search just as before, but with the following criteria: IP=7, H=6, R=2, SO=0 and BB=R. (To skip the search and see those results, click here.)
Besides matching their basic stat line, both Floyd and Hammel induced 12 ground balls, yielded 7 line drives, and had a Win Probability Added of 0.169.*
Also, it was the first time in 30 years that both starting pitchers went at least 7 IP without a strikeout. And it was the first time in 10 years that Colorado collected 10 or more hits at home without an extra-base hit.
Ready for another fun exercise? Pick any two players and peruse their pages on B-R -- biographical info, career stats, etc. How many common traits can you find? By selecting from the vast array of data for each player, and presenting only only the things they have in common, can you make them seem eerily similar -- like those lists comparing the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy?
- 28 years old
- 6' 6" tall
- 7 losses this year, with a low-4's ERA
- Innings nearly identical -- 101 IP for Floyd, 100.2 for Hammel
- 10 wins last year
- Both are with their 2nd MLB team, and had 7 wins with their 1st team
I stopped there because, well, this is just an exercise. But you are now armed with all the tricks you'll need to dazzle your friends with tales of once-in-a-blue-moon events and coincidences ... no matter how meaningless they may be.
* In case you're wondering, pitchers with the same stat line do not necessarily have the same WPA.