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Archive for the 'Mailbag' Category

Mailbag: The 100 Players Making the Highest Percentage of Team Payroll

Posted by Neil Paine on July 7, 2011

Today, we had a question from Jesse:

"As the trade deadline draws closer, I started to think of just how much money guys really make. I was watching a Phillies-Marlins game and watched Hanley Ramirez loaf it down the line and strike out with a chance to win the game, my dad remarked [to] me that he must make a big percentage of the payroll on that team. It got me thinking, what guy takes the biggest chunk out of the payroll? It's a little unfair, considering A-Rod's $32,000,000 contract would leave about $4,000,000 left for the entire rest of the roster for the Royals. But, with my informal research, I got it down to Todd Helton, Travis Hafner, and Carlos Lee. Yikes. Is there any way to figure this out with B-R?"

You can't find it with the current site tools, but I compiled the data from the USA Today Salary Database, and was able to put together this list (based on Opening Day payrolls and rosters):

41 Comments | Posted in Mailbag

Mailbag: Winning 95+ Games and Not Finishing in 1st Place

Posted by Neil Paine on July 6, 2011

B-R reader Andrew asks:

"The Braves could win 100 games and finish behind the Phils this year... How many times has this happened?"

The Braves are currently on pace for 95 wins, but unfortunately for them, the Phillies are on pace for 102. Here's every instance of a team winning at least 95 games and not finishing in 1st place (whether in the division or, prior to divisional play, the league):

Year Team Lg Div Rank W L WPct R RA Pyth
1909 Chicago Cubs NL 2 104 49 .680 635 390 .709
1942 Brooklyn Dodgers NL 2 104 50 .675 742 510 .665
1954 New York Yankees AL 2 103 51 .669 805 563 .658
1993 San Francisco Giants NL W 2 103 59 .636 808 636 .608
1962 Los Angeles Dodgers NL 2 102 63 .618 842 697 .586
2001 Oakland Athletics (WC) AL W 2 102 60 .630 884 645 .640
1961 Detroit Tigers AL 2 101 61 .623 841 671 .602
1915 Detroit Tigers AL 2 100 54 .649 778 597 .619
1980 Baltimore Orioles AL E 2 100 62 .617 805 640 .603
1978 Boston Red Sox AL E 2 99 64 .607 796 657 .587
2002 Anaheim Angels (WC) AL W 2 99 63 .611 851 644 .625
1908 New York Giants NL 2 98 56 .636 652 456 .658
1908 Pittsburgh Pirates NL 2 98 56 .636 585 469 .600
1928 Philadelphia Athletics AL 2 98 55 .641 829 615 .633
1964 Chicago White Sox AL 2 98 64 .605 642 501 .612
1974 Cincinnati Reds NL W 2 98 64 .605 776 631 .594
1985 New York Mets NL E 2 98 64 .605 695 568 .591
2004 Boston Red Sox (WC) AL E 2 98 64 .605 949 768 .596
1962 Cincinnati Reds NL 3 98 64 .605 802 685 .572
1941 St. Louis Cardinals NL 2 97 56 .634 734 589 .599
Year Team Lg Div Rank W L WPct R RA Pyth
1951 Brooklyn Dodgers NL 2 97 60 .618 855 672 .608
1977 Baltimore Orioles AL E 2 97 64 .602 719 653 .544
1977 Boston Red Sox AL E 2 97 64 .602 859 712 .585
1985 New York Yankees AL E 2 97 64 .602 839 660 .608
1999 New York Mets (WC) NL E 2 97 66 .595 853 711 .583
1964 Baltimore Orioles AL 3 97 65 .599 679 567 .582
1898 Baltimore Orioles NL 2 96 53 .644 933 623 .677
1905 Pittsburgh Pirates NL 2 96 57 .627 692 570 .588
1906 New York Giants NL 2 96 56 .632 625 510 .592
1920 Chicago White Sox AL 2 96 58 .623 794 665 .580
1935 St. Louis Cardinals NL 2 96 58 .623 829 625 .626
1946 Brooklyn Dodgers NL 2 96 60 .615 701 570 .594
1948 Boston Red Sox AL 2 96 59 .619 907 720 .604
1949 Boston Red Sox AL 2 96 58 .623 896 667 .632
1949 St. Louis Cardinals NL 2 96 58 .623 766 616 .598
1977 Pittsburgh Pirates NL E 2 96 66 .593 734 665 .545
1987 Toronto Blue Jays AL E 2 96 66 .593 845 655 .614
1997 New York Yankees (WC) AL E 2 96 66 .593 891 688 .616
1999 Cincinnati Reds NL C 2 96 67 .589 865 711 .589
1899 Boston Beaneaters NL 2 95 57 .625 858 645 .628
Year Team Lg Div Rank W L WPct R RA Pyth
1909 Philadelphia Athletics AL 2 95 58 .621 605 408 .673
1945 St. Louis Cardinals NL 2 95 59 .617 756 583 .617
1950 Detroit Tigers AL 2 95 59 .617 837 713 .573
1965 Chicago White Sox AL 2 95 67 .586 647 555 .570
1965 San Francisco Giants NL 2 95 67 .586 682 593 .564
1973 Los Angeles Dodgers NL W 2 95 66 .590 675 565 .581
1979 Milwaukee Brewers AL E 2 95 66 .590 807 722 .551
1979 Montreal Expos NL E 2 95 65 .594 701 581 .585
2002 San Francisco Giants (WC) NL W 2 95 66 .590 783 616 .608
2003 Boston Red Sox (WC) AL E 2 95 67 .586 961 809 .578
2005 Boston Red Sox (WC) AL E 2 95 67 .586 910 805 .556
2006 Detroit Tigers (WC) AL C 2 95 67 .586 822 675 .589
2008 Boston Red Sox (WC) AL E 2 95 67 .586 845 694 .589
2009 Boston Red Sox (WC) AL E 2 95 67 .586 872 736 .577
2010 New York Yankees (WC) AL E 2 95 67 .586 859 693 .597
1892 Brooklyn Grooms NL 3 95 59 .617 935 733 .610
1920 New York Yankees AL 3 95 59 .617 838 629 .628
1961 Baltimore Orioles AL 3 95 67 .586 691 588 .573

If the current NL East situation holds up through season's end, the 2011 Braves would become the 59th team in baseball history to win 95 games and not finish in 1st place (then again, like 12 other teams on this list, they would avail themselves of the wild card and still make the playoffs).

If they manage to win 100 games -- which they are not on pace to do, but is still a possibility -- Atlanta would be just the 10th team ever to reach that mark without winning their division/league.

39 Comments | Posted in History, Mailbag

Leading the League in Complete Games, Shutouts, and … Saves?

Posted by Neil Paine on May 16, 2011

B-R reader Nash noticed something interesting about Mordecai Brown's black ink this weekend:

"Everyone talks about unbreakable records (DiMaggio's 56, Cy Young's 511, etc.), and I know that this is in the context of the 'dead ball' era, so I don't know how relevant this is -- but in 1910, Mordecai Brown led the league in CG, SHO, and ... SAVES.

Don't think that anyone will pull THAT off again anytime soon!"

Keep in mind that the save policy we're using for pre-1950 seasons is the so-called "encyclopedia rule" (a pitcher who finished a game his team won, but did not get the win himself, is awarded a save). Still, Brown is just one of four pitchers since 1901 to lead his league in complete games, shutouts, and saves in the same season:

Player Year Lg CG SHO SV
Cy Young 1903 AL 34 7 2
Christy Mathewson 1908 NL 34 11 5
Ed Walsh 1908 AL 42 11 6
Mordecai Brown 1910 NL 27 6 7

Like Nash says, this is one club that's unlikely to expand beyond its four current members anytime soon.

19 Comments | Posted in History, Leaders, Mailbag, Stats

Mailbag: Pitchers whose first PA of a game came before their first pitch

Posted by Neil Paine on April 20, 2011

B-R reader Blake had an interesting question this morning:

"You folks are great at acquiring information like this, so I would like to ask:

Could you produce a list of the occasions when a visiting team starting pitcher has had an AB before he has thrown his first pitch in a ballgame?"

Using the Play Index Batting Event Finder, you can set up a search for all PAs in a given year range by a visiting pitcher in the 1st inning:

All of MLB: 189 Plate Appearances in 2003-2011, during 1st Inning, Away Games and As P

Of those 189 instances since 2003:

  • All but two teams -- the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays -- had a pitcher bat before throwing a pitch. The leaders, predictably, are all NL teams; St. Louis saw this happen an MLB-high 15 times, while the Padres and D-Backs had it happen 14 times apiece. The Twins and Angels led the AL with 3 instances apiece.
  • Pittsburgh pitchers allowed it to happen the most, as they saw their counterpart in the top of the 1st 25 times. Right behind them were the Rockies (20) and Reds (17).
  • The visiting pitcher hit .110/.148/.134, which sort of hampers your chances of making it all the way back to the top of the order -- although away leadoff men also saw a second 1st-inning PA 96 times over the same time span.

18 Comments | Posted in Event Finders, History, Mailbag, Play Index, Power Users, Site Features

Mailbag: Least plate appearances by a winning team

Posted by Neil Paine on April 15, 2011

B-R reader James Sinclair sent this one in to us, so what follows are his words:

A conversation with a friend led me to look up the Braves-Pirates box score from July 25, 1992, a game any Braves fan who was around at the time would recognize for at least two reasons: (1) It was the Braves' 13th consecutive win, tying the franchise record at the time (later broken by a 15-game streak in 2000), and, (2) that mundane-sounding "Flyball: CF" with one out in the top of the 9th was this playOtis Nixon's spectacular catch to rob Andy Van Slyke of a home run that would've given the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

What I had forgotten until I looked at the box score is that the Braves had just one hit, a David Justice home run. Even more unusual, they had just 25 plate appearances, which is the absolute minimum a team can have and still win a full-length game (Jeff Blauser drew a walk in the fourth, but was caught stealing). And it would have to be the home team—one run scored (by home run, most likely), 24 outs, and the top of the ninth ends with a 1-0 lead—while for a visiting team the minimum is 28.

I figured that's a pretty rare occurrence, and the best search method I could think of was to find games where a team faced only one batter over the minimum and still lost, so I went to the team pitching game finder. I had to search in kind of a roundabout way, because I didn't see a way to find all games where BF – PO = 1 for the losing team (and also I'm not a subscriber, for which I sincerely apologize—I won't tell anyone how I got around the limited result displays). So I searched for losing efforts where BF = 25 and PO = 24, then BF = 26 and PO = 25 (to account for games ending in a walk-off), and so on. After about ten rounds of this, I did some broader searches (BF < 42, PO > 36; BF < 48, PO > 42, etc.) to make sure I didn't overlook an extra-inning game that fit the criteria.

Point is, unless I missed something, there are only three full-length games in the Baseball-Reference archive in which the losing team faced one batter over the minimum. Oddly, they were all in the same decade:

July 25, 1992: Pirates 0, Braves 1
July 27, 1993: Rangers 1, Royals 0
September 20, 1998: Dodgers 1, Giants 0

The latter two were won by the visiting team, with 28 plate appearances, so the Braves appear to be in sole possession of the record, since 1919, for least plate appearances in a victory—and it took one of the most memorable plays in Braves history to do it.

A few more observations:

  • Kevin Appier's game score of 91 in the 1993 game is the second-highest in the archive by the losing pitcher of a nine-inning game, and the highest since 1964.
  • In the 1998 game, the Giants' Brian Johnson led off the eighth with a triple, but the Dodgers managed to get out of the inning.
  • Barry Bonds was on the losing team in two of these games, was caught stealing in both, and went a combined 0-for-7 at the plate.
  • Nixon robbed Van Slyke of more than a home run—Van Slyke finished the 1992 season with 199 hits (his career high), and tied with the Braves' Terry Pendleton for the league lead.

So, there you go. It's not timely at all, but I feel like I've made an archaeological discovery here (if this is already online somewhere, I haven't found it), and just wanted to pass it on to someone who might be interested.

Thanks, James!

16 Comments | Posted in History, Mailbag, Play Index, Power Users

Pre-1910 Batter Strikeout Data

Posted by Neil Paine on April 13, 2011

A B-R user recently wondered about the source for our pre-1910 batter strikeout data (example), given that those stats were not officially kept track of until 1913 in the AL and 1910 in the NL. I posed the question to Pete Palmer, stat legend and season-data provider to Baseball-Reference, and here was his reply:

"The strikeout data came from Jonathan Frankel, who did a tremendous amount of work with a number of helpers checking box scores in various newspapers. He identified about 90% of NL batters and 80% of AL batters from 1897-1909. The results were then prorated for the remainder of the season. Work is continuing on digging up more boxes and also on 1910-12 AL.

I was surprised that Jonathan was able to find so much data. What happened is that the local papers often carried the strikeouts for their games, so it required volunteers all over the country to check the papers, plus some inter-library loans. It was a terrific undertaking."

It turns out that Jonathan has a blog where he posts updates about the progress of his batter strikeout research. He says the 1910 AL is 89% complete right now, and that he has begun work on the 1912 AL as well.

8 Comments | Posted in Administration, History, Mailbag, Stats

Mailbag: Most Expensive Starters (Per Inning, 2008-2010)

Posted by Neil Paine on March 22, 2011

B-R reader Don recently asked about the most expensive starters per inning pitched (apropos of the Yankees' infamous Carl Pavano contract). Since the average MLB team payroll was approximately even from 2008-2010 (see below), I can calculate dollars per inning for those years using just raw salaries.

Year Avg Team Payroll
2010 $90,711,996
2009 $88,837,600
2008 $89,495,289
2007 $82,556,300
2006 $77,409,987
2005 $72,957,113
2004 $69,022,198
2003 $70,942,071
2002 $67,469,251
2001 $65,355,444

I considered a pitcher a "starter" if more than half of his games pitched were starts. Here were the most expensive starting pitchers per inning from 2008-2010:

10 Comments | Posted in Mailbag, Stats

Which Red Sox Game Was Featured in ‘The Town’?

Posted by Neil Paine on March 1, 2011

Note: What follows is the complete text of an email sent to us by B-R reader David Matchett, so all credit for this research goes to him. Enjoy!


I was on a flight this weekend and watched The Town with Ben Affleck. When Ben and Jeremy Renner were scouting Fenway Park for their big heist they were in the upper deck in right field and there was a game going on while they talked. The scene cut to the game and a play was shown. I remembered your Ferris Bueller post from a few weeks ago and it got me thinking about the game that was being played in this movie.

17 Comments | Posted in Gamelogs, Mailbag, Power Users

Mini-Bloops: When Will Jeter Hit #3,000?

Posted by Neil Paine on February 2, 2011

B-R reader Mark writes in with this estimate of which specific game Derek Jeter will notch hit #3,000 in:

"When will Jeter get his 74th hit in 2011? For any Yankees season subscriber, this is a very important question to figure out before selling unwanted 2011 games.

  • Based on career H/G average (1.27) , game #58 on 6/3 (assumes he plays every game in 2011)
  • Based on historical record of his 74th hit every season: game 60 or 65 (6/5 or 6/11) depending on whether you consider historical Team G#s or Player G#s of each year's H# 74.

The first was simple math based on career stats.

The second was culled from b-r's Game Logs, copied as CSV into Excel, and derived from there by adding a cumulative H column for each season to the game records."

Nice to see someone using the site tools for their own mini-research projects. Of course, I would add that it's probably unrealistic to expect Jeter to hit at his career norms next season, so if we use last year's rates we get:

Based on this extremely simple analysis, you should probably expect Jeter's 3000th hit sometime in the first 2 weeks of June.

36 Comments | Posted in Bloops, Mailbag

Mailbag: Biggest Differences Between HR Leader and Runner-Up

Posted by Neil Paine on January 11, 2011

Here's a question from Ehud:

"Jose Bautista was the AL home run king in 2010, while the second-place HR leader (Paul Konerko) had 15 homers less. Is that the biggest difference in history of HR kings?"

Not quite. While the 15-HR gap between Bautista and Konerko is impressive, it actually pales in comparison to some of the leads Babe Ruth had in his HR races.

In 1920, the same year he famously had 4 more HR by himself than any other AL team, Ruth also placed a 35-HR gap between himself and runner-up George Sisler. And the following year, Ruth repeated that feat, hitting 35 more HR than Ken Williams. All told, Ruth owns 5 of the 6 biggest differences between a league HR leader and the runner-up. Here's the full list of biggest disparities between #1 and #2:

81 Comments | Posted in History, Home Runs, Leaders, Mailbag, Stats

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