We salute those players who most resembled Rob Deer in 2005.
In more mundane terms, the Three True Outcomes (TTO) are those plate appearances
that end without the defense getting a chance to touch the ball, plate appearances that end in a home run, a walk, or a strikeout. What started as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to
a unique player (Deer) has, ironically, turned out to have useful applications
not for batters, but for pitchers, in the form of Voros McCracken's work into
defense-independent pitching statistics.
Keith Woolner continues our Setting the Stage series by looking at the randomness involved with predicting standings within a division.
However, I've often wondered just how accurate even the best predictions can
be. We've written about predicting player performance before, so I am going to focus on predictions at the team level, namely the order of finish within a division.
An interesting aspect of the question is whether even perfect predictions of team quality can result in reliable predictions of standings. Is a 162-game season sufficiently long enough for competitive teams to differentiate themselves conclusively?
Which player best evoked the spirit of Rob Deer to win the 2004 Three True Outcomes title? Keith Woolner takes a look.
The Three True Outcomes are, at their core, a celebration of hitters, epitomized by
the patron saint of the TTO, and the prototype for early BP book covers, Rob
Deer. Last year,
we introduced a more formal method for balancing the contribution from each True
Outcome to a hitter's overall rating. To summarize that method, we compute each
hitter's HR/PA, BB/PA, and SO/PA and divide it by the MLB average to normalize the
rate. We then look at the lowest value for each hitter (i.e. determining which
category he performed worst in compared to league average), and use that value as
the hitter's overall score. This ensures that those who rise to the top of the
rankings truly embrace and produce all three True Outcomes in abundance.
Continuing to add to Baseball Prospectus' stable of stat reports, Keith Woolner unveils new entries for rookies and RBI opportunities. Plus all-new, fully-updated reliever reports, with some new twists.
As with the revisions to SNWL, I've broken down the new reliever statistics into three reports. The first looks specifically at inherited and bequeathed runners, to determine what a reliever's "fair" RA would have been, taking into account the runners on base and the number of outs both when he entered the game, and when he left.
After successful surgery, the Support-Neutral pitching statistics return, bigger and better than ever. Keith Woolner takes a look at the changes.
The Support Neutral Win-Loss pitching report has been an integral part of Baseball Prospectus since our inception in the mid 1990s. In fact, Michael Wolverton invented SNWL way back in 1993, when it was presented in a paper published by SABR's "By The Numbers" statistical newsletter. The concept behind Support Neutral pitching statistics is a simple one: determine what a pitcher's W/L record "should" have been, if he had gotten average performances from his teammates, adjusted for park, and looking at each start individually.
After Derek Zumsteg and Joe Sheehan shared their thoughts on Ichiro Suzuki's run at .400, Keith Woolner looks into Barry Bonds' chances of turning the trick.
Following Monday's loss to the Braves, Bonds has played in 117 games. He's racked up 112 hits in 305 AB, for a .367213 (.367) batting average. If he got hits in each of his next 17 AB, his average would stand at .400621, so he needs a minimum of 17 AB to reach .400.
He's played in 88% of the Giants' games, which if he continues to do so for
the rest of the year, means about 26 more games. He's averaging 2.61 AB/G
(and 1.56 BB/G), which would give him about 67 more at-bats the rest of the
The Cardinals already had a fearsome lineup core. With the addition of Larry Walker, it's now one of the best the game has ever seen. Eat your heart out, Miller Huggins.
The accumulation of talent invites the question: with Larry Walker added, do the Cardinals have the best middle of the order ever? Although Renteria (.294/.338/.418) isn't hitting like he did last year, Edmonds, Pujols and Rolen are all above a .330 EqA. When he's healthy, Walker is a Hall of Fame-caliber talent. Their performance warrants a look at the great lineups of the past, to see where exactly these Cardinals rank.
We decided to use MLVr to rank the offenses; this stat measures the amount of runs per game that a given player will contribute to a lineup that otherwise consists of average offensive performers. MLVr doesn't give bonus points for playing a tough position: it just cares how well you hit. So we took the top five regulars on each team and ranked them by their average MLVr. Lo and behold, there are our Cardinals:
Leave it to Randy Johnson to ruin a perfectly good trivia question. At the
end of my previous article on "Hidden
Perfect Games," I included a trivia question on the remaining pitcher who
tossed two perfect games (hidden or not), having already named Pedro Martinez and Tom Browning. In the meantime, Randy Johnson threw an "official" perfect game on May 18th, to go along
with a hidden perfect game in 1998, to add his name to list of those attaining multiple perfection.
In response to the original question, many people sent in their guesses...
Cleveland Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook recently drew attention for an outstanding seven-inning perfect relief appearance. Interestingly enough, he retired the last batter he faced his previous appearance, and the first five batters of his next apperance (en route to a complete game win over the Tigers), for a total of 27 straight batters retired. There's that "27" again--a perfect game, albeit one "hidden" across three appearances. Following Westbrook's accomplishment, I became curious about the idea of "hidden" perfect games--instances where a pitcher retired 27 batters in a row, but may have done it across multiple appearances; i.e. the pitcher retired the last 15 batters he faced in one start, and the first 12 batters he faced in his next start, he would have a streak of 27 batters retired, and thus have a "hidden" perfect game. Relievers could qualify as well, if they had, for example, nine straight 1-2-3 one-inning appearances.
Cleveland Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook recently drew attention for an outstanding seven-inning perfect relief appearance. Interestingly enough, he retired the last batter he faced his previous appearance, and the first five batters of his next apperance (en route to a complete game win over the Tigers), for a total of 27 straight batters retired. There's that "27" again--a perfect game, albeit one "hidden" across three appearances.
The following article was part of Baseball Prospectus' April Fool's Day content for 2004.
Sabermetrics has grappled with this issue for the past two decades, trying to discover whether clutch hitting existed, who the clutch hitters were if they did exist, and how much effect they had on the game. Most studies focused on situations that could be defined by objective criteria that related to the subjective impression of being "clutch"--batting with runners in scoring position, and batting in the late innings of close games being the two most common examples. However, in thinking about this recently, I realized that we had been approaching this in entirely the wrong way. Defining clutch in terms of a particular characteristic in a point in time fails to capture the common understanding of the term--delivering when it means the most to your team. Without having the larger context of the game in which to evaluate clutchness, any attempt to measure it is doomed to failure. So, what larger context applies in this situation? Clearly, the outcome of the game is paramount.
One of the biggest controversies between sabermetrics and conventional wisdom has been the existence of "clutch hitters." Those close to the game and how it's played are convinced that some players have the ability to "rise to the occasion" and deliver key hits in the clutch. Even casual fans can point to dramatic game-turning events such as Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit home run in the 1988 World Series as evidence for clutch hitters.