CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Futures Guide 2014 is Now Available in Paperback and Three E-book Formats.

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Kiss'Em Goodbye: Pitts... (09/15)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: ... (09/08)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: ... (09/16)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Org Watc... (09/15)

September 15, 2010

Checking the Numbers

Say Goodbye to the Triple Crown

by Eric Seidman

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Over the last two weeks I have utilized a neat simulation I built in order to assess the likelihood that a Triple Crown occurs this year. Simulations are the best way to make such a determination, as the three stats involved—batting average, home runs, and RBI—are intertwined. They might not always be connected, but it is more accurate to operate under this assumption than it is to multiply together the probabilities that a player leads the league in each category. When I ran through the rest of the season 10,000 times back on September 1, the feat was only achieved 777 times even though Albert Pujols and Joey Votto ranked either first or second in all three categories. Pujols won the Triple Crown in a whopping 663 of those 777 seasons, suggesting that the feat was unlikely to be achieved, but that Prince Albert was the heavy favorite.

Now, the rate that the Triple Crown occurred was going to be lower than it may have seemed because even though Votto and Pujols led in the categories, the simulation considered it very likely that someone would win one category while the other player took the remaining two. Another reason laid in the hands of Omar Infante, who didn’t have enough plate appearances to show up on the batting average leaderboard but had such a big lead that he was likely to win the batting title even with phantom at-bats added to his seasonal total. Overall, it was exceedingly likely that Infante would win the batting title while Pujols and Votto split the homer and RBI crowns.

Between September 1-7, much had changed across the statistical spectrum. Carlos Gonzalez, who was a dark-horse candidate at the beginning of the month, put up monster numbers and emerged as the most likely player to achieve the Triple Crown. His numbers were so good, in fact, that he legitimately overtook Infante in the batting average department. Of the 10,000 simulations, a Triple Crown occurred 503 times, with CarGo winning all three legs in 338 of those seasons. His 3.38 percent was over twice the rate that Votto won (1.57 percent), and Pujols’s 0.08 percent was but an afterthought. A week later, everything has once again changed. The first table below shows the statistics and rankings as of September 7, while the second shows updated numbers through September 13:

As of September 7, 2010

Name

BA

HR

RBI

Albert Pujols

.309 (6)

35 (1)

97 (2)

Joey Votto

.321 (3)

32 (3)

98 (1)

Carlos Gonzalez

.340 (1)

31 (5)

97 (2)

Omar Infante

.339 (2)

7

39

Martin Prado

.313 (5)

15

61

Starlin Castro

.317 (4)

3

40

Adam Dunn

.271

34 (2)

91 (4)

Dan Uggla

.284

29 (7)

87 (11)

Matt Holliday

.303

25

88 (7)

Corey Hart

.283

27

88 (7)

Ryan Howard

.275

26

88 (7)

Prince Fielder

.274

30 (6)

73

Mark Reynolds

.211

32 (3)

83

Adrian Gonzalez

.305 (8)

27

88 (7)

Adam LaRoche

.267

23

90 (6)

David Wright

.292

23

91 (4)


And a mere six days later:
 

As of September 13, 2010

Name

BA

HR

RBI

Albert Pujols

.308 (7)

39 (1)

104 (1)

Joey Votto

.321 (4)

34 (2)

103 (2)

Carlos Gonzalez

.337 (2)

32 (4)

101 (3)

Omar Infante

.343 (1)

7

41

Martin Prado

.313 (5)

15

65

Starlin Castro

.312 (6)

3

41

Troy Tulowitzki

.323 (3)

21

75

Adam Dunn

.264

34 (2)

91 (9)

Dan Uggla

.281

30(6)

92 (6)

Matt Holliday

.308 (7)

26

92 (6)

Corey Hart

.278

28 (8)

90 (10)

Ryan Howard

.281

29 (7)

100 (4)

Prince Fielder

.273

30 (5)

74

Mark Reynolds

.206

32 (4)

83

Adrian Gonzalez

.306

27 (9)

90 (10)

Adam LaRoche

.264

23

91 (9)

David Wright

.288

23

92 (6)


So what has changed? Well, Pujols went on a home-run rampage, upping his total to 39 and retaking the RBI lead. Ryan Howard has gone on an RBI spree, coming within four of the league-leading Pujols even though he had a stint on the disabled list in August. Troy Tulowitzki came from out of nowhere to the third spot on the batting leaderboard, though it will definitely be difficult to make up 14-18 points with so few games remaining on the schedule. Put together, the three categories are no longer shared as much as they were over the last two weeks. Pujols could win the home run and RBI titles, but he is over 30 points behind the batting average leader. Gonzalez could win the batting average and RBI titles, but is he really going to out-homer Pujols down the stretch? Votto is close in all three categories, but he has significant ground to cover in the BA and HR departments.

Because of everything that has transpired over the six days between my last update and this one, the Triple Crown is now a very far-fetched idea. In 10,000 simulations, it was only achieved 46 times in total, marking by far the lowest rate of occurrence since I started using the tool. Of those 46 times, Gonzalez overtook Pujols in home runs while winning the other two legs in 24 seasons; Votto led in all three on 20 occasions; and Pujols achieved the feat twice. The non-CarGo seasons saw him absolutely crater down the stretch, while Votto or Pujols looked as hot as he did as the beginning of the month. Essentially, the simulation views Gonzalez as equally likely to have a supreme power burst down the stretch as it does Votto to start accumulating hits while CarGo slumps. Regardless of its views, 46 out of 10,000 are not good odds at all, leaving me convinced that the feat will not be achieved this year.

Then again, Gonzalez was a dark-horse candidate who, in 12 days, became the ultimate contender, so I will still monitor the results. It just seems, however, that the odds the Triple Crown occurs this season are about as low as the Dodgers or Marlins making the playoffs.

Eric Seidman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Eric's other articles. You can contact Eric by clicking here

Related Content:  Carlos Gonzalez,  Cargo,  Triple Crown,  Omar Infante

6 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Kiss'Em Goodbye: Pitts... (09/15)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: ... (09/08)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: ... (09/16)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Org Watc... (09/15)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Sustained Success and the...
Eyewitness Accounts: July 24, 2014
Premium Article Painting the Black: The Selling-the-Closer M...
Premium Article Going Yard: J.D. Martinez Gets A Degree In H...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Tigers Bullpen Gets Le...
The Lineup Card: Seven Unsigned Top Draft Pi...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Kendrys Redux

MORE FROM SEPTEMBER 15, 2010
Premium Article On the Beat: Ready for a Return
Premium Article Future Shock: Org Watch: Yankees
Premium Article Kiss'Em Goodbye: Pittsburgh Pirates
Premium Article Under The Knife: About Those Pitch Counts
Campus Notes: Rules Matter

MORE BY ERIC SEIDMAN
2010-09-22 - Premium Article Checking the Numbers: The Cards Come Crumbli...
2010-09-17 - Checking the Numbers: CarGo on the Road
2010-09-16 - Premium Article Checking the Numbers: Chipper, Eddie, and Pe...
2010-09-15 - Premium Article Checking the Numbers: Say Goodbye to the Tri...
2010-09-10 - Premium Article Seidnotes: Loney Loves Ribeyes
2010-09-08 - Premium Article Checking the Numbers: Triple Crown Update
2010-09-07 - Checking the Numbers: Freaky Concerns
More...

MORE CHECKING THE NUMBERS
2010-09-22 - Premium Article Checking the Numbers: The Cards Come Crumbli...
2010-09-17 - Checking the Numbers: CarGo on the Road
2010-09-16 - Premium Article Checking the Numbers: Chipper, Eddie, and Pe...
2010-09-15 - Premium Article Checking the Numbers: Say Goodbye to the Tri...
2010-09-08 - Premium Article Checking the Numbers: Triple Crown Update
2010-09-07 - Checking the Numbers: Freaky Concerns
2010-09-03 - Premium Article Checking the Numbers: Who is the Best Switch...
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2010-09-16 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: NL: Do The Tighten Up