Sunday, January 30, 2011

All-Time Red Sox page is completed!

I've finished the All-Time Red Sox page. These first couple pages are going pretty quickly, since I already had 90-some% of the Pictures and Stats collected, from earlier version of the teams. The Yankees are the same way, so I'll be doing them next. It will be the Giants and Dodgers after them. I only have about half of the pictures and stats that I need for those two , so they're next, but they might take a little bit longer. After that, I'll probably alternate by doing whole teams and individual players, we'll see.

Also, I need to update one of the Tigers' depth charts. The Designated Hitter list is incomplete.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

All-Time Tigers page is COMPLETED!


I've finally finished a team's page, 100%!

If you go to the All-Time Detroit Tigers page, you'll see how I eventually want to have every team's page looking. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom to see the revamped notes section, and reader's comments.

And if you're a Tigers fan, or have a question or suggestion about the team, or an opinion about the Lu Blue - Jim Northrup tie, or if you just want to leave me a message, PLEASE feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Applying the "Candy Maldonado Rule" to dWAR

OK... So first of all: What's the "Candy Maldonado Rule?"

That's just my name for the contradictory philosophy of creating a formula to determine objectively who the best ball players are, but then only accepting the formula if it tells you pretty much what you thought you already knew, subjectively.

In a story I read years ago by Bill James, he described how that was kind of how OPS first came about. Someone came up with the idea of adding OBP and SLG together (which is absurd, mathematically speaking, as each is a fraction with a different denominator, but I guess that's beside the point) and when they looked at who the top 10 were (at the time) they got: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Rogers Hornsby, Mickey Manlte, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and Johnny Mize. IOW: Guys who could reasonably end up on ANYONE'S short-list of greatest hitters. And THAT was how they decided the formula was useful: It told them what they already "knew!" So I wondered what would have happened if instead, it ended up telling them that Candy Maldonado was the greatest hitter that ever lived. Well... for one, we probably wouldn't be talking about OPS anymore! LOL

And really... that's kind of stupid, when you think about it. We come up with a formula meant to TEST our judgement, and then we only keep it if it CONFIRMS what we've already prejudged! (And BTW, no offense is intended to Mister Maldonado. He was a fine ball-player, and just happened to be the first name (of a decidedly non-Hall of Famer) that popped into my head, way back during the time I was having this discussion, and it just kind of stuck after that. Really, what the rule means is just to ask the question: DOES THE RESULT MAKE SENSE?

And given some of the rather odd dWAR results I've come accross doing these teams - guys I remember as being anywhere from very good to phenomenal fielders getting little or no (or even negative!) dWAR, in some cases having enough oWAR to make the team, but not enough dWAR - I figured it might be interesting to apply the old "Candy Maldonado rule" to dWAR. On thge high end, all the top 10 players, all-time, by dWAR are: Brooks Robinson (3B), Andruw Jones (CF), Roberto Clemente (RF), Ozzie Smith (SS), Mark Belanger (SS), Carl Yastzremski (LF-1B), Germany Smith (2B), Willie Mays (CF) and Cal Ripken (SS-3B). The highest ranked Catcher, at 12th all-time, was Ivan Rodriguez, and the highest ranked true first baseman, at 36th, was Keith Hernandez.

OK... that might not be perfect, but I'd say it's pretty darned good. It's clear to see that it definitely recognizes greatness when it sees it. Now... how about mediocrity? Let's take a look at the career dWAR of the "Iron Glove" team that I conjured off of the top of my head in my last post about the futility of doing statistical analysis on defense.

C - Ernie "Schnozz" Lombardi (-2.7)
1B - Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart (-6.1)
2B - Jose "Errors leader of the 1990's" Offerman (-7.4)
3B - Harmon "Killer" Killebrew (-7.5)
SS - Don "E7" Buddin (-4.2)
LF - Dave "Kong" Kingman (-6.2)
RF - Kirk Gibson (0.1)

For the most part? This seems pretty accurate. I'll admit that I didn't think Kirk Gibson was really all that bad... I just couldn't think of ANYONE nearly as bad in the OF as Kong, and I remembered some of the troubles Gibson had early in his career and figured, along with the injuries he had later in his career, that he'd be a reasonable choice. Turns out he rates better than I though, but then... he doesn't really belong on this team anyway, I just couldn't think of anyone else. Also, there's something worth mentioning about Lombardi: He had a CANNON of an arm. His defensive woes come entirely from his having these short, stumpy legs and being so slow, even for a Catcher, that he often turned Sacrifice Bunt attempts into base hits, if the hitter knew to hustle. In any case though, overall I'd say this passes the test on the other end of the spectrum as well.

So why the goofy results with some players? Bob Boone, for example, failing to make the Phillies due to a mere 0.5 dWAR after 10 years on the team? Well... as I pointed out in my last post, there will always be exactly 27 outs in a nine inning game. No matter how bad a team's fielders are, they'll never get less, and no matter how good they are they'll never get more. So as near as I can figure, in the case of Boone, being on the same team with Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Gary Maddox and Steve Carlton, after a point all these great glove-men (along with Carlton's 200-300+ strikeouts a year) start to cancel each other out. So Boone (along with Schmidt and all the others) ends up getting a bit under-rated. And as further evidence of that? In just SEVEN years with California (with aging and over-the-hill guys like Carew, Grich, DeCinces and Jackson in the field) Boone's dWAR was 7.7. IOW: He accomplished over twice as much every year, defensively in Cali as he did in an entire decade in Philly! Unless you think Catchers get better with age (ha!) I'd say it's pretty clear that he was 'cancelled out' a lot less, later in his career.

So... yeah, while dWAR does recognize some extreme cases, it is not perfect. I'd say it seems to suffer from the same deficiency as every other defensive rate stat: Failure to recognize that no matter how good (or bad) a defence is, they can't manage more (or less) than 27 outs per 9-Inning game. I'm still going to use it, but with many of the borderline cases, there may be a case for making some changes in the future. (And I'll certainly make changes if they refine the formula to correct for what I'm talking about here.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why any statistical analysis of defense is useless

There are four basic statistics collected for fielders: Putouts, Assists, Errors, Double Plays. And from these, many rate stats can be calculated. These most common of these is Fielding Percentage ([PO+A]/[PO+A+E)) and Range Factor ([PO+A]/Games or Innings played.) These can be compared to yearly league averages for the position, and be used in many other ways, but they’re all useless.

Fielding percentage might be the most useless, and most intelligent fans know why. A guy with no range in the field gets to very few balls. He’ll make very few errors, but also very few plays. A guy with great range will get to many more balls, make many more plays, and make many more errors, by muffing plays that he usually makes look easy, but which would be well beyond the reach of lesser fielders. Thus a high fielding percentage does not necessarily mean you’re good – possibly just too cautious for your team’s own good – and a lower fielding percentage doesn’t mean you’re bad – possibly just to aggressive for your own good, stats-wise.

And this is hardly a new observation, or strictly a modern phenomenon. Check this out. It was written in 1917!

Range factor (plays per game) is also useless. And the problem has to do with the fact that Putouts and Assists mean very different things for Outfielders and Infielders. In the Outfield, a putout means you caught a fly ball. It’s strictly a measure of Range. In the infield, it also means the occasional infield fly, but far more often it comes from a guy STANDING ON THE BASE while SOMEONE ELSE THROWS HIM THE BALL. That the lions share of infield putout and they are largely a measure of nothing at all. (One's ability to stand there a catch a ball being thrown to him by a professional.) They can also slap the tag on a runner, but this is also NOT a measure of range. In the outfield, assists means the Outfielder gunned down a runner. It’s purely a measure of his arm. In the infield, it means the infielder GOT TO A BATTED BALL, and then threw it to the bag. His arm’s involved, but it’s a far greater indicator of his RANGE: To be able to throw out a lot of guys at first, you need the RANGE to get to more of those grounders, dribblers and one-hoppers. Compared to that, the number of fly-balls and line-drive caught are minuscule, and not really indicative of an infielders RANGE anyway. ANY infielder is in range of 90% of the Infield Flies hit, and catching line-drives is more a measure of reflexes than range. And Catchers? Well they’re all messed up. They get Assists for gunning down runners (Arm) but also for fielding bunts (Range). So there’s a little of both going on there, with any good Catcher. (Of course… these days we steal a LOT more than we Bunt, so Catcher is probably the one infield position where Assists are due to Arm more that Range.)

And then you’ve got double plays. To me THIS should be a good way to measure a guys arm. In the Outfield, it’s just an assist, but it one that occurs when a guy challenges the Outfielder and loses. In the infield, a Double play get credited to the every guy involved. Let consider the classic 5-4-3 and 5-6-3 Double plays: The 3rd Baseman HAS to make a GOOD THROW (Arm, OK); the middle infielder needs to turn it, making a GOOD THROW to first, typically while leaping through the air (Arm, OK), the first baseman…. Has to catch it, maybe while leaning forward. YTF should HE get credited with a double play?

Also, while an Outfielder with a GOOD arm might rack up a lot of Assists, gunning down runners foolish enough to underestimate him, an Outfielder with a GREAT Arm might not get many at all… since fewer players would be foolish enough to test him! Same goes for Catchers. Take two Catchers with a 35% Caught Stealing Rate. But one of them faces 4 attempts per game, while the other faces only 1. Same rate, but is there any difference? Why the disparity in attempt rates? Maybe that second catcher is really good, and so only the very best ever even TRY to steal on him – thus his 35% comes against only the leagues elite runners. The other guy’s closer to average, and so half the league in running on him, and HIS 35% comes against a much lower caliber of runner, on average. It’s possible that he didn’t throw out ANY of the top runners that were gunned down 35% of the time by the second Catcher.

Any way, leaving out Catchers and First Basemen, A/G and DP/G could be used to rate the Range and Arms of infielders, respectively while PO/G and A/G could be used to measure the Range and Arms of Outfielders, respectively. That makes a BIT more sense to me that (P+A)/G to measure only Range, but it’s still completely bogus, and here why…

There are only 27 outs per game. Period. If we count Pitchers’ strikeouts, that what you’ll find is that every single team averages the same number of Outs per Nine Innings: TWENTY SEVEN. (They can’t possibly have any more or any less!) And that’s important. Because in a stat like Home Runs, or Hits, there is no limit designed in. So players compete with all players in the league to see who can rack up the most. In the case of OUTS? (PO, A and K) Players are competing only with the other fielders ON THEIR OWN TEAM.

Let’s say you have a team where everyone is AVERAGE. Everyone is going along making X out per game, whatever their fair share is as average fielders. They’re also making Y errors – again, whatever their share Is, as average fielders. Then let’s say the team goes and signs a young Ozzie Smith to play shortstop. Suddenly twice as many balls hit between 2nd and 3rd are being caught, and fewer errors are being made. Many more than the average number of out is being made by the shortstop. But what happens to everyone else’s defensive stats? Remember: There are only 27 outs in a game! All those extra plays being made at Short mean fewer balls being hit everywhere else on a per nine inning (or per 27-out) basis!

Say they then go and sign Brooks Robinson to play 3rd, Roberto Alomar to Play 2nd, Keith Hernandez to play 1st, Johnny Bench to Catch, Roberto Clemente to play right, Willie Mays to play Center and add Bob Feller, Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton to the Rotation. What do you think happens to the Left Fielder’s Range Factor? Well, it goes down, of course! WAY down! Did he get worse? No. But a much higher percentage of balls hit elsewhere else that used to go for hits are now being caught for outs. What’s more, all those strikeout t pitchers, fewer balls are even being put in play! And that means fewer chances for a ball to be hit his way. No matter how you cut it, straight up or against a league average, he looks worse, ever though he’s the same guy, playing the same way.

Let’s say instead of doing what they did above, the teams puts Dick Stuart at Fisrt, Harmon Killebrew at Third, Don Buddin at Short, Jose Offerman at 2nd, Dave Kingman in Left, Kirk Gibson in Right, Ernie Lombardi at Catcher and don’t sign any new pitchers. Suddenly, the Centerfielder now looks like a defensive superstar, at least statistically! He didn’t get any better in reality, but no one ELSE is making any plays, and remember: The game doesn’t end until 27 out are made! And with such a low percentage of hits being made everywhere else, lots more balls (on a per 27 outs basis) are now being hit to Center. Even if his actual range doesn’t increase by a single step, the Center Fielder will be making more plays PER GAME. Fans would look at his league-leading range factor and wonder, how does that happen? He’s not even that good! But there’s the rub:

The only thing Range Factor will tell you, is that if a player (say the CF) on ONE TEAM has a higher RF, compared to the league average, than another player (say the SS) on that SAME TEAM does, then that might mean that Player A is a better Centerfielder than Player B is a Shortstop. It says NOTHING AT ALL about how he compares to Centerfielders on OTHER TEAMS, because he’s not competing with any of THEM for his share of 27 outs per game. Even looking at double plays can be misleading because an Outfield of Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente would mean a higher percentage of ball hit to the outfield would be caught and thus fewer ground balls will be hit on a per 27 outs basis. Thus robbing the infielders of Double Play opportunities.

And strikeout takes defensive opportunities away from EVERYONE. So that pitching staff I mentioned earlier? Would make every fielder look lazy, statistically, even that same lineup that went with them, plus Yaz. The fielders and Pitchers start to cancel out each other stats because no matter how good they are, a team simply cannot get more than 27 out per game – it a mathematical impossibility.

I don’t have the answer. I accept, and use, dWAR but I suspect that the flaws I’ve mentioned above are inherent to it as well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thanks, Hockeydad!

I recently recieved a really great (and very thorough) PM from user Hockeydad55, over in Yuku, from the Dave Koch PC Action Sports forums. He took the time to go through each and every one of my teams, and had some really good questions and potentially interesting discussion starters about several players on each. I'd like to re-post some of his message here, and then re-post the sections about each team in the comments section, under their appropriate teams.

(BTW... If you've never checked out Dave Koch Sports and their line of PC Action Sports Strategy games, give them a look! Their baseball simulation is far and away the best I've ever seen!)


Hello 4F.

I am always working on all time teams for all the sports. Just
something I like to do, often with ambitions to do something with replays with
it but never seem to get that far. Though, I just got the DKS baseball game and
their Franchise All Stars disk, and think it's not too far off with some
adjustments from making for a good replay disk. Anyway, definitely liked what
you did and spent a lot of time checking it out and comparing to mine as well as
the DKS Franchise All Stars disk. Since you based it strictly on WAR ratings for
career with team, it did benefit some who simply spent a lot of years with the
team. But all in all I thought the teams were pretty decent.

Some thoughts / comments for each team:

[This section broken up and posted (or will be) under each team]

Generally I liked your teams. I could go into even more of our differences, but didn't want to get too carried away here. Generally we agree pretty well. I have also researched and tried to choose three best seasons for the players on my teams with a desire to make a FAS disk averaging their three best years (since some best seasons don't represent the player very well, such as with Norm Cash and Wade Boggs). Probably about 80% done on "best three seasons" selections. But, would take a lot of time to build such a disk.

Anyway, that's plenty for now.



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Congratulations, Hall of Fame Class of 2011!

Congratulations to Roberto Alomar of the All-Time Padres, Blue Jays and Indians and to Bert Blyleven of the All-Time Twins and Rangers on their induction into Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame!

Monday, January 3, 2011

All-Time Standings (Team WAR)

American League East

New York Yankees (1919.4)
Boston Red Sox (1538.6)
Baltimore Orioles / St. Louis Browns (1201.3)
Toronto Blue Jays (711.7)
Tampa Bay Rays (260.8)

American League Central

Detroit Tigers (1620.3)
Cleveland Indians (1392.8)
Minnesota Twins / Washington Senators (1332.7)
Chicago White Sox (1311.3)
Kansas City Royals (836.7)

Americal League West

Oakland / Kansas City / Philadelphia Athletics (1400.8)
Los Angeles / California Angels of Anaheim (838.9)
Texas Rangers / Washington Seantors (746.7)
Seattle Mariners (709.2)

National League East

Atlanta / Milwaukee / Boston Braves (1673.4)
Philadelphia Phillies (1321.8)
New York Mets (824.3)
Washington Nationals / Montreal Expos (701.1)
Flordia Marlins (356.3)

National League Central

Chicago Cubs (1614.9)
St. Louis Cardinals (1525.0)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1494.8)
Cincinatti Reds (1417.6)
Houston Astros (984.8)
Milwaukee Brewers / Seattle Pilots (719.6)

National League West

San Francisco / New York Giants (1857.0)
Los Angeles / Brooklyn Dodgers (1480.5)
San Diego Padres (643.6)
Colorado Rockies (371.5)
Arizona Diamondbacks (322.1)

Notes: So far, the only time any division saw their standings play out as shown above was the American League West, in 2006.

2016 National League All-Time All-Stars

2016 American League All-Time All-Stars

2016 Tampa Bay Rays All-Time All-Stars

All-Time Arizona Diamondbacks

Classic Diamondbacks teams:

2016 Miami and Florida Marlins All-Time All-Stars

Classic Marlins Teams:

2016 Washington Nationals and Montreal Expos All-Time All-Stars

2016 Colorado Rockies All-Time All-Stars