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September 17, 2003

Aim For The Head: Reader Mail, and More New Stat Reports

by Keith Woolner

Ryan Smith writes: I'm a Cubs fan, and one of the more interesting stats that I remember about their promising 2001 campaign was Eric Young's 43 doubles and 42 RBI. I thought it would be near impossible for a player to have as many as 25 doubles and fewer RBI than doubles. However, after a bit of research (nothing extensive), I learned that there had been a few guys to do it. Indeed, it is rare. Since 1901, there have been only 45 players with 300+ AB who had more doubles than RBI. The record for most RBI with more doubles is held by Mark Grudzielanek, who had 54 doubles, but just 51 RBI in 1997. Grudzielanek also holds the record for most AB in such a season with 649. Three other players have had 600+ AB and more doubles than RBI: Don Blasingame for the 1959 Cardinals (615 AB, 26 2B, 24 RBI), Sparky Adams for the 1931 Cardinals (608 AB, 46 2B, 40 RBI), and the aforementioned Eric Young. The fewest doubles that exceeded a player's RBI total was done by Dick Howser playing for the 1965 Indians. In 307 AB, he hit just eight doubles, but had just six runs batted in (one of them on a home run). J.L writes: Interesting new statistical reports. I'm piqued by Pitchers Counterpart Profile. Why should I care how the opposing pitcher has pitched all season when looking at my pitcher's record? All that matters is how opposing pitchers performed on the particular day they "faced" my pitcher. Unlike PQBF and BQPF, the two pitchers do not really "face" one another, therefore the results need not be filtered by considering their average performances. Counterpart quality is interesting to investigate questions like whether teams juggle their rotations to get their aces facing each other, or whether good run support came from a pitcher's teammates having an unusually good day (better than you'd expect given who they are facing), or if a team was beating up on weak pitching. It may not have predictive value, but it has some explanatory power.

August 15, 2003

Aim For The Head: New Stat Reports

by Keith Woolner

For those of you who haven't noticed, we are debuting several new statistical reports this week that will be updated daily throughout the season. All of these reports are currently available as a free preview at our Statistics page. Some of these reports, however, will be offered as part of Baseball Prospectus Premium in the coming weeks and months.

August 13, 2003

Aim For The Head: Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame

by Keith Woolner

If Pete Rose is, in fact, reinstated after the season, as previously reported, he becomes eligible to be placed on the Hall of Fame ballot. For many fans, his on-the-field qualifications are a foregone conclusion. As baseball's all-time hits leader, 17-time All Star, the 1973 MVP, and key member of the Big Red Machine, it's hard to deny that Rose has some impressive credentials. And indeed, baseball fans voted him onto the All-Century Team as one of the finest players of the 20th century. However, there's been a reassessment of Rose's value as a player over the past 15 years, as sabermetrics has advanced our understanding of how offenses work, and how teams win. As the importance of On-Base Percentage has been recognized, and measures such as OPS (On-Base Percentage Plus Slugging average) have become popular, Rose has become a poster boy for the overrated star--one whose game consisted of hitting a lot of singles, and posting a high but empty batting average. Some have gone as far as to say that Rose doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame on the merits of his playing career, even excluding any gambling controversy. But is this a revisionist history by the statheads, or an honest, updated assessment of a former star?

August 4, 2003

Premium Article Aim For The Head: Supercycles

by Keith Woolner

Apologies for my absence as of late, especially to those adoring fans who actually noticed that I was gone (both of you... Hi Mom! ... ah, who'm I kidding, my mom doesn't read Baseball Prospectus). That said, unlike the majority of AFTH columns, this edition isn't prompted by a reader question, but rather my own interest in a baseball anomaly. I've been interested in "hitting for the cycle" for some time. Though it's primarily a novelty achievement (having each of the four specific types of hits), it does represent a an admirable feat. It has happened 79 times between 1972 and 2002 by 74 different batters. Five batters managed to do it twice: George Brett, Cesar Cedeno, Frank White, Bob Watson, and Chris Speier. The novelty aspect of hitting for a cycle has led to interesting situations, such as whether a batter who already has a double, triple, and home run should stop at first on a would-be double to get his name in the footnotes of baseball history. Clearly, a game with two doubles, a triple and a home run is a more valuable accomplishment than a cycle, and so, while acknowledging the uniqueness of hitting for a cycle, I'd like to introduce a term for having a game at least as good as hitting for the cycle.

May 15, 2003

Aim For The Head: Understanding MLVr

by Keith Woolner

In Baseball Prospectus 2003, we introduced a new rate metric in lieu of Equivalent Average (EqA), which graced the pages of previous editions. This metric, Marginal Lineup Value Rate (MLVr), measures how much offense a player produces compared to an average player. Since the publication of BP 2003, one of the most common questions I've received concerns what the scale of MLVr is, or in other words, what a "good" MLVr is. As a new and unfamiliar metric, MLVr lacks the built-in recognition factor that something like EqA had, which was designed to follow the familiar batting average scale. The tradeoff, however, is that the "units" of EqA don't measure anything--one point of EqA doesn't equate to one run, or a tenth of a run, or a fraction of a win, or anything else that's tangible. Equivalent Average is essentially a dimensionless index that follows offense production, but does not, by itself, measure it. Instead it's made so that the "installed base" of baseball fans can understand it. MLVr takes the opposite tack, choosing to express results in terms of runs per game, (and more specifically, runs per game above or below a league average player), rather than a more familiar scale. This makes it more useful for quantitative analysis, at the expense of being more opaque to casual baseball fans.

April 1, 2003

Aim For The Head: A Big Change for OBP

by Keith Woolner

Keith Woolner takes a second look at OBP, righting a big wrong in the process.

March 25, 2003

Premium Article Aim For The Head: Opening Day Starters

by Keith Woolner

First, I want to apologize for the long absence of AFTH from the web site. In addition to the usual off-season book-writing duties, I spent the winter relocating to the east coast from California as well as welcoming a new baby to the family. But I'm getting settled now, and hope to be writing AFTH and doing other research again in between feedings and diaper changes.

November 22, 2002

The Daily Prospectus: Balanced Lineups Redux

by Keith Woolner

Soon after yesterday's installment of "Aim For The Head" appeared on the web site, my e-mail starting getting reader comments.

November 21, 2002

Premium Article Aim For The Head: Are Balanced Lineups Better?

by Keith Woolner and Rodger A. Payne

Based solely on offense, expected runs created - given the scenario that your total starting lineup team OPS was fixed at a certain number. Would you be better off building a team with a few superstars, balanced off with some truly horrible players or a team of mostly mediocre players?

August 30, 2002

Aim For The Head: Quality Starts

by Keith Woolner

This week's question comes from Sam Grossman, who writes: What percentage of "quality starts" results in Ws, Ls and NDs for the starting pitcher? What about Ws and Ls for the team? Has this been consistent across time (effect of bullpens, etc.)?

August 20, 2002

Greatest Living Pitcher: Running the Numbers to Settle the Argument

by Keith Woolner and Jonah Keri

July 18, 2002

Aim For The Head: Scoring Early and Often

by Keith Woolner

This week's question comes from Chuck Valenches, who writes: I am the broadcaster for the Pirates' Triple-A club, the Nashville Sounds. We do a promotion where fans are encouraged to write in and "Ask the Sounds".... One question we received we cannot find an answer for. Q. Has there ever been a game in which both teams scored at least one run in every inning, and when was the last time it happened?

July 12, 2002

Aim For The Head: Long Plate Appearances Mailbag

by Keith Woolner

More mailbag.

June 26, 2002

Aim For The Head: More on Lengthy Plate Appearances

by Keith Woolner

Many people brought up the point that strikeouts can only kick in at three pitches, and walks at four pitches.

Aim For The Head: More on Lengthy Plate Appearances

by Keith Woolner

June 11, 2002

Premium Article Aim For The Head: OPS by Length of Plate Appearance

by Keith Woolner

Looking at which length of a plate appearance favors the hitter, the pitcher, or neither

Aim For The Head: OPS by Length of Plate Appearance

by Keith Woolner

June 6, 2002

Aim For The Head: PAP^3 FAQ

by Keith Woolner

PAP Q&A

June 5, 2002

Aim For The Head: PAP^3 FAQ

by Keith Woolner

May 29, 2002

Aim For The Head: Simulating Catcher's ERA

by Keith Woolner

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