a fascinating article on his website (subscription required) tracking the stability of five different areas of baseball history (see key in the above graph) plus the overall stability measured as the average of the five factors. The data was calling out to me to be turned into a line graph, so here it is. I've used a rolling four year average trend line for the numbers James provided. (He didn't include the numbers for every year, just pointed out certain years in a narrative summary.)
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Last February, March, and April, I painstakingly rated my top 100 players of all time and made note of any connections each one had with KC. Click here to see all my top 100 related posts. With another season in the books and some new thoughts about how to adjust my rankings, I've rejiggered them a bit, and you can find my new list below.
In my original formula that greatly informed my rankings, I did not include a "timeline adjustment" to give more recent players a bonus. I considered it, thanks to Bill James arguing for and using one in his Historical Baseball Abstract top 100. Last off-season, my thinking was that all that really matters is how much a player dominates in his own era. If Babe Ruth was worth 10 WAR one season and Barry Bonds worth 10 WAR in another, then they were equally valuable. But after finalizing last off-season's ratings, I did a check to see how well my list was distributed throughout baseball history. Using a reverse numbering system where my #1 player was rated as worth 100 points in each year of his career, #2 worth 99 points in each year of his career, etc., I came up with a year-by-year index of how my top 100 were distributed. It looked like this:
The replacement and average level player keeps getting better and better, making it harder and harder to dominate the later in baseball history you get. I did not doubt that before, but now I understand how important it is to take into consideration when comparing one era to another. While thinking about this recently, I came across a fantastic 1977 study by Richard Cramer that actually quantified this ever-increasing skill level in baseball. (I would love to see someone smarter than me update that study.)
So I've added this timeline adjustment, stolen from James, to my formula: (year of birth - 1852)/6. On the extremes of players that made my list, Albert Pujols has an 18 point edge on Cy Young, worth roughly 9 WAR in the formula.
Here's how the year-by-year greatness breaks down in my new list:
It's especially satisfying how much this evens things out between 1953-2007. There's still that conspicuous bump centered around 1927, which I'm still not sure what to make of. It could be that there was just a random huge influx of greatness at that time. It's also possible that I'm overrating the 17 Negro leaguers included in my list. But maybe the most likely thing is that another adjustment is needed to penalize players from the segregated era. Keeping out a large population of the best players surely drove down the overall replacement/average skill levels, making it easier for very good players to dominate at all-time great levels. I'm going to keep thinking about that, but may add in a segregated era penalty in next year's revision.
Only four players fell off of my original list, victims mostly of the timeline adjustment: Joe Jackson, Ernie Banks, Home Run Baker, and Yogi Berra, replaced by newcomers Adrian Beltre, Chase Utley, Alan Trammell, and Carlos Beltran. Here is the new list, with a note for whether the player moved up, down, stayed in the same spot, or is new relative to my first rankings (the new top five by position is at the end):
- Babe Ruth -
- Willie Mays -
- Ted Williams -
- Oscar Charleston -
- Walter Johnson -
- Barry Bonds -
- Ty Cobb -
- Rogers Hornsby -
- Hank Aaron -
- Roger Clemens ↑
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
I've packed my blogging bags and moved in with Craig and Clark at Royals Authority. I've started counting down my top 100 Royals, and my June schedule desktop is over there as well. This space will probably be somewhere between even more quiet than usual and totally ignored.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
There's been plenty of talk around the interwebs about the Royals abysmal home run numbers to start the 2014 season, as well as their impotence throughout their history: Mike Engel did a great breakdown of KC homer rates at home and on the road and in different eras, Engel also discussed the topic with Jeff Herr on the KC Baseball Vault, Rob Neyer chimed in, and JoePo revisited the infamous Balboni record. As if more needed to be said on the topic, I started poking around at how their homers have broken down by ballpark. Here's the top ten by total homers:
1. Kauffman 2271
2. Angel 220
3. Metrodome 200
4. O.co 182
5. US Cellular 180
6. Tiger 179
7. Fenway 170
8. Yankee II 147
9. (old) Arlington 146
10. Progressive 139
More interesting are the home run rates by stadium. The Royals have had at least 500 plate appearances in 30 different stadiums. Here are their rates at all of them:
Safeco?! Safeco has been as much of a homerun graveyard as Kauffman until the fences were moved in last year. 33 Royals have homered in Safeco, with Raul Ibanez and Mike Sweeney leading the way with five apiece. I suppose it's mostly a fluke, but it's also more proof that it's not impossible to hit homers at a reasonable rate in big parks like the Royals sometimes seem to suggest. None of the current Royals have done much damage at Safeco: Alex and Billy have two, Hosmer one.
At first I was surprised to see Municipal at the bottom, but then I remembered there was no DH those years and of course they were an expansion club. Ed Kirkpatrick, with 26, was the only player to hit even 20 homers combined in the four years at Municipal. Bob Oliver, Lou Piniella, John Mayberry, and Amos Otis were the only others with 10 or more. The run scoring environment was neutral at Municipal, but I don't know exactly about home run factors. I believe the LF-CF-RF dimensions when the Royals played there were 369-421-328, so there were certainly no cheapies to be had.
Fenway and Yankee II are both a little lower than I'd expect considering the short dimensions in left and right respectively. They've hit dingers at a much higher rate at Yankee III in the short time it's been open.
And not surprisingly, but sadly, Kauffman is way down at 23rd on the list. Like you already know, Kauffman is indeed a tough park to homer in, but it's not as tough as the Royals have made it look. Visiting teams consistently out-homer the Royals in their own ballpark. According to Engel, the Royals have homered once every 54 PAs in Kauffman history while their opponents have gone long once every 46 trips to the plate. In the words of GOB Bluth, "Come on!"
5/13 Update: It occurred to me after posting the above that it is probably more instructive to limit the data to the DH/Kauffman era, so here are the Royals homer rates by stadium from 1973 through today. Ignoring '69-'72, Tiger Stadium takes over the top spot, while Safeco strangely remains at the top of current stadiums. (The Royals hit two dingers in three recent games at Safeco, which actually dropped their all-time Safeco rate.)
Monday, April 28, 2014
Using my top 100 player list, here's how the rankings break down by position.
Pujols is already in a dead heat with Foxx, and will almost certainly pass him sometime this season.
My best guess is that Satchel Paige was Walter Johnson's equal on the mound. But Johnson could hit a little, and Satchel couldn't.