June 6, 2001
Multiply by Three
Fun With Numbers
When I was growing up in Half Moon Bay, California, I went to school "over the hill" in nearby Belmont (for elementary and junior high) and Atherton (for high school). As a result, I didn't really know anyone in Half Moon Bay (my friends lived close to school), and spent a lot of time on what could only be called solitary baseball activities.
This included stuff like working on my footwork in my driveway while throwing brightly colored rubber balls against our garage door and fielding the resulting ground balls; throwing a bucket of baseballs at a target a couple of hundred feet away; and taking my motorcycle (a Kawasaki KE 175) down the street to a gigantic field by the beach, where I would hit a couple of buckets of balls off a homemade tee. (The field across the street and the field down by the beach are now covered with million dollar homes--ironic because we moved to Half Moon Bay because it was the only place in the bay area where my Mom could find a house for only $75,000 back in the late 1970s.)
It was about this time that I first got interested in the performance-metric side of baseball. I didn't use those terms, but I did religiously grab the green section of the San Francisco Chronicle every morning to hungrily check the box scores.
About every other day, the Chron would run the A's and Giants stats for the season to date. At the time, the coverage was extremely light compared to the flood of information we get today. Basically, we got batting average, hits, at-bats, home runs, and RBI for each player, with a list at the bottom for notable performances in stolen bases, runs, or doubles. For pitchers, it was pretty much wins, losses, saves, IP, and ERA. There was also occasionally an AP feed of the Top 5-8 guys in each category for each league. I remember Elias Sosa freakishly being near the top of the league in wins for the A's in 1978 or 1979, and hoping he'd vulture enough wins to somehow win 20 and lead the league. It didn't happen. I think he was 8-0 fairly early in the season, and ended up something like 8-3.
Anyway, one of things I really liked to do (being the loser I was) was to figure out what kind of stats players would have at the end of the season. Someone has 13 home runs through 40 games? Cool! They're on pace to hit 52.65 HR!
Naturally, when you do this kind of diseased thing, you invent things to look forward to within that particular realm. There are a couple of points in the season when figuring out what pace people are on was really easy--81 games, when you simply multiply by two, and 54 games, when you multiply by three. Seeing as that I haven't really matured very much, I still look forward to those points in the seasons. And yes, chicks still dig this behavior.
So, for grins, let's take a look at some stats for the season thus far, multiplied by three.
Some pretty interesting stuff. Don't think any of it will actually happen, except possibly Torii Hunter completing the best defensive year ever and Russ Branyan striking out 183 times, but still pretty cool nonetheless.
Sorry, ladies...I'm spoken for.
Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by clicking here.