Posted by Andy on December 15, 2010
Reader Matthew Bohnert wrote in describing a game that I've actually played myself with the Baseball-Reference.com player pages. Matthew writes:
"One bizarre and silly suggestion for a time-waster. I am fascinated by Similarity Scores. I can’t really say why. But I am.
One mindless game I like to play is “How Many Clicks To Babe Ruth”? The game starts by picking any batter. Any - at random, from any point in baseball history. Click on their page. It could be Felix Millan. It could be Ted Williams. It doesn’t matter.
Then you start plotting a strategy whereby you click through the Top 10 Similarity Scores shown on the bottom of the page, linking your way to Babe Ruth in as few clicks as possible. Hank Aaron obviously takes only 1 link. Somebody like Enzo Hernandez or Johnnie LeMaster usually takes about 25 or 30. But it can be done. I have yet to find a player where it’s impossible."
"Here's the link progression for Johnnie LeMaster. It's not optimized....in other words, I just fumbled through it right now and you could certainly cut out some 3-4 link loops and probably find a faster path.
It's also fairly typical for a light-hitting infielder, whereby you mess around and don't get anywhere for about 10-12 links, and then you stumble upon a good player with some decent power totals, like Ryne Sandberg. Once you get traction there, you know it's just a matter of time before you link your way to the promised land.
I've also found that Vern Stephens pops up frequently as a critical link around steps 10-12, to connect underwhelming batting careers with the Sultan of Swat.
1. Johnnie LeMaster
2. Dick Schofield
3. Mike Gallego
4. Brian Giles
5. Gene Mauch
6. Jerry Dybzinski
7. Ron Gardenhire
8. Tony Pena
9. Kiko Garcia
10. Mike Phillips
11. Frank White (here's where we start to take off)
12. Bill Mazeroski
13. Roberto Alomar
14. Ryne Sandberg (now we know it's just a matter of time)
15. Lou Whitaker
16. Joe Morgan
17. Craig Biggio
18. George Brett
19. Dave Winfield (closing in for the kill)
20. Frank Robinson
21. Hank Aaron
22. Babe Ruth
What a great game! You can have fun with your friends. Impress chicks. Wow business associates. All on Baseball-Reference.com!"
I imagine a lot of readers out there have played this game already. What have you discovered?