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March 1, 2011

Overthinking It

The Genuine Articles

by Ben Lindbergh

Baseball Prospectus rests on a foundation laid in large part by dissecting baseball numbers, but we’ve rarely turned the same inquisitive statistical eye inward. That’s as it should be, since despite our occasional delusions of grandeur, we know that you come here to consume the sausage, not to see it made (the sausage, in this case, being baseball writing). Still, in light of our recent roster additions and ongoing Wayback Machine series, I thought it might be fun to see how far we—and by "we," I mean the site, since I haven’t been around all that long—have come by looking back at our article publication trends and most prolific authors since our online incarnation went live in 1997.

All told, we’ve published 12,500 pieces of writing on the site—a number that will have been eclipsed by the time you read this sentence. The discrepancy between that total and the recent article ID numbers that show up in our URLs can be attributed almost entirely to unpublished drafts. (For those of you hoping for a Great Lost BP Album, forget it—most of them are blank.) At last count, 195 souls have gone far enough wrong somewhere in life to receive their own Baseball Prospectus bylines (most recently Alan M. Nathan, who by all accounts is quite a respectable fellow in other respects).

The most important message I want to impart (if you’ll forgive a brief digression into infomercial territory) is that we’re providing far more content now than we have at any other point in our existence. The following graph shows a 10-day moving average of the number of pieces published per content day on the site throughout the years:

Granted, we’re not currently running weekend content, which brings the average down, and I am including blog posts in the tally. (While not every blog post has been or should be as meaty as the typical column, some investigate important mysteries or run 8,000 words, so it wouldn’t be right to exclude them entirely.) Even so, it’s clear that BP is a much busier place than it used to be.

The graph reveals a substantial boost in average posts per day early in 2003, when Baseball Prospectus Premium was launched, followed by a plateau for several years before a steep climb in the last year that might qualify as a “breakout” in baseball terms. Along the way, both the introduction of fantasy-oriented material in February 2005 and the arrival of the blog system in April 2009 served to bolster the site. It’s also interesting to note the cyclical nature of BP content—we tend to hit our yearly low during annual season (known to much of the rest of the world as “the holidays”), before ramping up our readiness concurrent with the players (albeit with considerably less physical activity) and maintaining a high level of production throughout the season. If past performance is any guide, we're likely still on the upslope this year, despite the recent influx of articles.

In fact, although we’re a subscription-based site, one happy byproduct of the overall article increase is that we’re publishing at least as much free content (including this article) as we were during the days when BP Premium was just a figment of the founders’ imagination. Here’s the same display as above, restricted to free offerings only:

So who’s responsible for writing all of these articles? The following table lists the BP Top 40 (in the article-count sense). I’m crediting articles with multiple authors to each of the authors involved, including blog posts in the counts, and excluding over 500 articles credited only to “Baseball Prospectus,” which were produced by the staff’s collective hive mind. Here’s the list:

Author

Article Count

Joe Sheehan

1508

Christina Kahrl

1197

Will Carroll

1190

Kevin Goldstein

1028

John Perrotto

640

Jay Jaffe

486

Marc Normandin

456

David Laurila

413

Jim Baker

350

Derek Zumsteg

288

Steven Goldman

282

Alex Carnevale

246

Nate Silver

218

Eric Seidman

190

Rany Jazayerli

161

Caleb Peiffer

159

Dayn Perry

141

Gary Huckabay

135

Matt Swartz

112

Dan Fox

104

Jonah Keri

96

Keith Law

95

Tommy Bennett

95

Bryan Smith

93

Craig Brown

88

Keith Woolner

86

Clay Davenport

80

Dennis Cleary

79

Derek Jacques

79

John Erhardt

79

Ryan Wilkins

78

Ben Lindbergh

78

Dave Pease

76

James Click

74

Jeff Erickson

70

Colin Wyers

62

Rob McQuown

61

Ken Funck

59

Jeff Euston

53

Shawn Hoffman

51

For a complete list of contributors, click here. The list will be outdated by the time this article is published (for one thing, I’ll have moved into a four-way tie for 28th place), but it serves as a useful refresher. Of course, any baseball analysts worth their byline know that counting stats don’t tell the whole story, but in the absence of an authorial replacement-level baseline, determining value will have to wait.

Before we conclude, let’s visualize some of these authors’ contributions, in descending order of overall article count. The following image plots each article by the top 20 authors listed above on a timeline beginning in September 1997 and ending yesterday, allowing us to see how each writer amassed his or her article tallies and when they overlapped. It should be easy to spot the lone author on the list who spans BP’s online publication history. (One additional note: the rightmost square in Gary Huckabay’s record owes its presence to his recent turn as our Wayback leadoff batter.)

That's where we've been; we hope you'll join us or stick with us as we maintain our forward momentum, in the process shaping future iterations of the images and tables above. At this rate, the next 12,500 articles won't be quite as long in coming.

*Edit* I wanted to include this originally, but technical difficulties prevented me from doing so until now. We keep track of how many internal links (in other words, links from other BP articles) each BP article receives; you can see this information displayed at the very bottom of each applicable article page. Here’s a list of all BP articles with at least ten internal incoming links, in descending order of links:

Title

Column

Author

# of Links

Date

Link

Opening Day

Prospectus Hit List

Jay Jaffe

67

3/3/08

Link

The List

Top 50 Prospects

Rany Jazayerli

52

2/22/05

Link

Millstones and Milestones

Prospectus Hit List

Jay Jaffe

42

4/25/08

Link

The Doctor is…Gone

Doctoring the Numbers

Rany Jazayerli

41

8/15/00

Link

Small-Sample Theater

Prospectus Hit List

Jay Jaffe

37

4/11/08

Link

Three True Outcomes, 2005

Aim for the Head

Keith Woolner

36

1/24/06

Link

The List

Top 50 Prospects

Rany Jazayerli

36

2/20/06

Link

July 30-31

Transaction Analysis

Christina Kahrl

35

8/1/04

Link

Welcome Back

Prospectus Hit List

Jay Jaffe

35

4/18/08

Link

Walking a Fine Line

Prospectus Hit List

Jay Jaffe

35

5/9/08

Link

A Mulligan on Guzman

Lies, Damned Lies

Nate Silver

32

10/12/05

Link

Overwhelmingly Neutral…

Prospectus Hit List

Jay Jaffe

27

5/2/08

Link

The List

Top 50 Prospects

Rany Jazayerli

25

2/24/04

Link

The Best of the Best

Top 100 Prospects

Kevin Goldstein

24

1/31/08

Link

About EqA

BP Basics

Clay Davenport

21

2/24/04

Link

Top 100 Prospects

Future Shock

Kevin Goldstein

20

2/21/07

Link

The Hitters

The Class of 2006

Jay Jaffe

16

12/12/05

Link

Does Voros' Theory Work…

MiLB BABIPs

Clay Davenport

15

4/18/05

Link

PECOTA Projects the…

Lies, Damned Lies

Nate Silver

14

3/21/05

Link

Introduction

Positional Health Rep.

Will Carroll

14

2/12/07

Link

Chicago White Sox vs. Chiba…

Battle of Champions

Dave Haller

13

1/4/06

Link

How Much Control Do Hurlers…

Pitching and Defense

Voros McCracken

12

1/23/01

Link

PECOTA Breaks Hearts

Lies, Damned Lies

Nate Silver

12

3/29/06

Link

Saying Goodbye to the Expos

Au Revoir, Mes Amours

Jonah Keri

11

3/9/06

Link

Playing With the Lineup

Crooked Numbers

James Click

11

2/17/05

Link

The Draft

Doctoring the Numbers

Rany Jazayerli

11

5/13/05

Link

The System, Explained

Prospectus Hit List

Jay Jaffe

11

8/30/05

Link

Wins and the Quantum

Schrodinger's Bat

Dan Fox

11

4/6/06

Link

Secret Sauce

Lies, Damned Lies

Nate Silver

11

9/20/06

Link

NL Staff Picks, 2005

Preseason Predictions

Baseball Prospectus

10

4/1/05

Link

Week of October 2

Prospectus Hit List

Jay Jaffe

10

4/2/07

Link

Simple Fielding Runs Version 1.0

Schrodinger's Bat

Dan Fox

10

1/24/08

Link

Strange Times

Prospectus Hit List

Jay Jaffe

10

5/16/08

Link

Thanks to Colin Wyers and Rob McQuown for research assistance.

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

27 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
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Premium Article Overthinking It: Openi... (03/03)
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Prospectus Q&A: Adam G... (03/01)

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