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Archive for January, 2011

Subscribe to the Play Index!

Posted by Neil Paine on January 26, 2011

With the 2011 season rapidly approaching, you don't want to miss Baseball-Reference's Play Index . In case you don't already know about the PI, it's a set of research tools that allow you to create customizable queries on our database, save the results, and share them with others. Using the PI, you can:

  • Search full-season or multi-year totals to find your own custom leaderboards - Look at the entire history of baseball from 1871-2010 with every year, team, and position available, or filter the results in a vast number of ways: by specific years, by age, by first six seasons or last ten seasons, by American League only, by Cubs only, by switch-hitters, by catchers, by outfielder or infielder, by year of debut, but active or retired, by Hall of Famer, by height and weight, by living or deceased, or by a range of common statistical categories. Then sort the results by any common statistic, by the teams with the most players matching that category, by players with the most seasons matching that category, or by most recent, youngest, oldest, final year, or year of debut, and others. You can now isolate 2010-11 free agents and 2011 Hall of Fame candidates in your searches as well.
  • Search player game totals - Filtering on any of a dozen or more choices, search for games on a single player level, or on any batter from 1920-2010, or on any pitcher. The same can be done for Team Batting or Team Pitching Totals.
  • Search player games looking for the most consecutive games matching a particular set of criteria - This can be done either on a single player level or on any batter in the last ninety years or on any pitcher. The same can be done for Team Batting or Team Pitching Streaks.
  • Search the records of a specific player - Output a detailed summary and play-by-play list of all events of a specific type from a single year or an entire career. For example, you can see all of Harmon Killebrew's triples or even his outs to the second baseman.
  • Search Batter vs. Pitcher Matchups - This tool presents a complete sortable list of batter or pitcher with totals for every opponent they faced by career or by year. Clicking on the player's name will lead you to a detailed output of their head-to-head plate appearances.
  • ...And more!

Personal Subscriptions to the Play Index cost $36 for a year, $6 for a month, or $2 for 24 hours. Subscriptions may only be used by a single user, and there are discounts for users sponsoring at least $35 in pages.

Organizational Subscriptions can be set up for either an unlimited number of users ($600/year, this includes three hours of custom programming and reporting to be used at your discretion), or for up to five users ($125/year, this includes one hour of custom programming and reporting to be used at your discretion).

There are Two Steps to Subscribe to the Play Index:

  1. Login to or create a Sports-Reference.com account (the same account used to sponsor pages).
  2. Already logged in (or just created an account)? Go to our subscription page to sign up.

Our Always-Available Free Trial: Non-subscribers can use the PI's features as much as you like. However, your outputs will be restricted to a limited number of results.

The Play Index comes with a money back guarantee. We will gladly return the unused portion of any Play Index Subscription should you be dissatisfied with the Play Index.

So go ahead, give the Play Index a try -- we're confident that once you start using it, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

2 Comments | Posted in Administration, Announcements, Play Index, Site Features

Are baseball players more skilled now than ever?

Posted by Andy on January 26, 2011

Some readers and I had a brief debate in another thread about whether players today are the most skilled they've ever been in history.

I feel that they are. Players are the fittest they've ever been, strongest they've ever been. On average, I expect they are also faster and have better eyesight. They have a lot more tools at their disposal for improving their game, ranging from specialized coaching to video replays to advanced statistics.

Chuck argues that pitchers are far more specialized and, I presume, lack the breadth of skills that pitchers used to have. I guess the argument goes that modern pitchers succeed because they're not asked to do as much as pitchers used to be, and if they were, they would fail more often.

Barkie argues that hitters can't bunt as well as they used too, or hit behind a runner, or hit a fly ball on purpose, and that most hitters just swing for the fences all the time.

What do you think?

133 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

B-R Blog: About oWAR and dWAR and responding in a timely manner

Posted by Sean Forman on January 25, 2011

Reader mail of the day: fielding WAR for DH?  THE BOOK--Playing The Percentages In Baseball

I'm a busy guy, so I don't always read all of the blogs out there that you might think I do.  

42 Comments | Posted in Fielding Stats, Uncategorized, WAR, Whining

3+ Games With 2B/3B/HR Since 1920

Posted by Steve Lombardi on January 25, 2011

Conventional wisdom suggests that the single is the easiest part of hitting for the cycle. So, what about the "hard" part? Since 1920, how many players have hit a double, triple and homerun in the same game, three times or more, regardless of whether or not they hit for the cycle?

18 Comments | Posted in Game Finders

Highest career WAR with more fielding runs than batting runs

Posted by Andy on January 25, 2011

(Thanks to reader Andy P. for emailing in this idea.)

Think of the best defensive players of all time. Now, among them, who was the worst hitter?

There's a decent chance you came up with Ozzie Smith, or one of a few other players we're about to discuss.

20 Comments | Posted in Season Finders

2010: Year of the Strikeout

Posted by Andy on January 24, 2011

(Thanks to reader Kahuna Tuna who pointed out the central stat used in this post.)

Strikeouts are more prevalent now than at any time in MLB history. Last year we looked at this, showing how strikeouts per inning pitched are now at 7 per 9 innings while walks remain between 3 and 4 per 9 innings, where they've been for 40 years. The data is available in raw form on the MLB Pitching Encyclopedia page, where you can see that the final K/9 number for 2010 was a staggering 7.1.

As league-wide strikeout rates have gone up, the rates for individual pitchers have gone up as well. It used to be that a pitcher with 1 K/inning was a rare feat. Check out who did it 25 years ago (minimum 30 IP):

Rk Player Year SO/9 IP G GS SV H BB SO ERA+
1 Tom Henke 1986 11.63 91.1 63 0 27 63 32 118 128
2 Ron Robinson 1986 9.03 116.2 70 0 14 110 43 117 120
3 Nolan Ryan 1986 9.81 178.0 30 30 0 119 82 194 107
4 Mike Scott 1986 10.00 275.1 37 37 0 182 72 306 161
5 Mark Langston 1986 9.21 239.1 37 36 0 234 123 245 87
6 Mark Eichhorn 1986 9.52 157.0 69 0 10 105 45 166 249
7 Mark Davis 1986 9.60 84.1 67 2 4 63 34 90 119
8 Mark Clear 1986 10.38 73.2 59 0 16 53 36 85 199
9 Lee Smith 1986 9.27 90.1 66 0 31 69 42 93 131
10 Ken Howell 1986 9.58 97.2 62 0 12 86 63 104 90
11 Calvin Schiraldi 1986 9.71 51.0 25 0 9 36 15 55 299
12 Bobby Witt 1986 9.93 157.2 31 31 0 130 143 174 79
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/20/2011.

But now check out the teams with the most such pitchers (>1 K/IP, minimum 30 IP) in 2010:

Rk Year Lg Tm #Matching
1 2010 NL San Diego Padres 7 Mike Adams / Heath Bell / Ernesto Frieri / Luke Gregerson / Mat Latos / Edward Mujica / Joe Thatcher
2 2010 NL San Francisco Giants 7 Denny Bautista / Santiago Casilla / Tim Lincecum / Sergio Romo / Dan Runzler / Jonathan Sanchez / Brian Wilson
3 2010 AL Chicago White Sox 5 Edwin Jackson / Bobby Jenks / J.J. Putz / Sergio Santos / Matt Thornton
4 2010 NL Los Angeles Dodgers 5 Jonathan Broxton / Charlie Haeger / Clayton Kershaw / Hong-Chih Kuo / Ted Lilly
5 2010 NL Milwaukee Brewers 5 John Axford / Zach Braddock / Yovani Gallardo / Manny Parra / Carlos Villanueva
6 2010 NL Atlanta Braves 4 Mike Minor / Takashi Saito / Jonny Venters / Billy Wagner
7 2010 NL Florida Marlins 4 Clay Hensley / Josh Johnson / Leo Nunez / Jose Veras
8 2010 NL Philadelphia Phillies 4 Jose Contreras / Cole Hamels / Brad Lidge / Ryan Madson
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/20/2011.

Yeah, two teams had 7 pitchers on their own staffs, as compared to 12 total players from all teams doing it in 1985. In total, in 2010, 78 pitchers achieved the feat (out of 411 with at least 30 IP, or 19.0%).

By comparison, in 1986, it was 12 pitchers out of 302 with at least 30 IP (4.0%).

None of this is all that surprising. It just means that the arbitrary number of 1K/IP for a pitcher, while still above average, is not as impressive at it used to be.

60 Comments | Posted in Season Finders

Bloops: Who Gets the Scoop?

Posted by Andy on January 23, 2011

Dave Gershman of Beyond the Box Score has posted a chart showing which reporters have broken the most correct stories regarding major-league deals this off-season. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman come out particularly well.

13 Comments | Posted in Bloops

Rivera & Napoli For Wells

Posted by Steve Lombardi on January 22, 2011

The Angels have traded Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli to the Blue Jays for Vernon Wells. So, what do you think of this trade?

67 Comments | Posted in Bloops

Did Tommy Lasorda know?

Posted by Andy on January 21, 2011

(Thanks to reader Kahuna Tuna who sent in this idea.)

Just about all baseball fans over the age of 30 will remember Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series. It was quite an unlikely walkoff job, thanks in large part to Gibson's injury and Dennis Eckersley's dominance. Nevertheless, it happened. Turns out there might have been a little magic at work.

32 Comments | Posted in Event Finders

200+ Hits & 80 Runs Scored Or Less

Posted by Steve Lombardi on January 20, 2011

Since 1876, how many players have scored 80 runs or less in a season where they had 200+ hits that year?

74 Comments | Posted in Season Finders

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