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Articles Tagged 1991 World Series 

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January 14, 2004 12:00 am

The Class of 2004

0

Jay Jaffe

The Baseball Writers of America's standards on what constitute a Hall of Fame pitcher are in a curious spot now, both when it comes to starters and relievers. Spoiled by a group of contemporaries who won 300 games from the mid-'60s to the mid-'80s (Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro), the writers haven't elected a non-300-winning starter since Fergie Jenkins in 1991. That Perry, Sutton and Niekro took a combined 13 ballots to reach the Hall while Ryan waltzed in on his first ballot with the all-time highest percentage of votes is even more puzzling. Apparently what impresses the BBWAA can be summarized as "Just Wins, Baby"--which is bad news for every active pitcher this side of Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux. Of the 59 enshrined pitchers with major-league experience, only two of them--Hoyt Wilhelm and Rollie Fingers--are in Cooperstown for what they accomplished as relievers. While the standards for starters are somewhat easy to discern (if lately a bit unrealistic), the growing number of quality relievers on the ballot, the continuous evolution of the relief role, and the paucity of standards to measure them by present some interesting challenges to voters. If there's an area in which performance analysis has struggled mightily against mainstream baseball thought, it's in hammering home the concept that the pitcher doesn't have as much control over the outcome of ballgames--as reflected in his Won-Loss totals--or even individual at-bats--hits on balls in play--as he's generally given credit for. Good run support and good defense can make big winners of mediocre pitchers on good teams, and .500 pitchers of good hurlers on mediocre teams. As such, it's important to examine the things over which a pitcher has control and account for those he does not. Once again, the Davenport system rides to the rescue.

[Note: The research for this piece, and much of the writing, was done prior to the Hall of Fame voting results being announced.]

INTRODUCTION

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January 6, 2004 12:00 am

The Class of 2004

0

Jay Jaffe

With the 2004 STATLG-L Hall of Fame balloting now in the books, and the results of the BBWAA voting slated to be released this afternoon, there are few topics more prominent in baseball fans' minds than "Which players will make it to Cooperstown in 2004?" And rightfully so. Enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame is the highest honor a former-player can receive, and most fans are protective of that: a fact that has spurned countless heated debates over the years--rational, objective, and otherwise. With that being said, I thought it would interesting to see what some of Baseball Prospectus' newly updated measures of player evaluation had to say on the topic. For the uninitiated, BP's Davenport Translated Player Cards measure a player's value above replacement level for offense, defense, and pitching while adjusting for context--park effects, level of offense, era, length of season, and in Clay's own words, "the distortions caused by not having to face your own team's defense." The Davenport Cards offer the most sophisticated statistical summaries available; if you can adjust for it, it's in there. The basic currencies of the Davenport system, whether it's offense, defense, or pitching, are runs and wins, more specifically, runs above replacement level and wins above replacement level.

With the 2004 STATLG-L Hall of Fame balloting now in the books, and the results of the BBWAA voting slated to be released this afternoon, few topics are more prominent in baseball fans' minds than "Which players will make it to Cooperstown in 2004?"

And rightfully so. Enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame is the highest honor a former-player can receive, and most fans are protective of that: a fact that has spurned countless heated debates over the years--rational, objective, and otherwise.

Read the full article...

September 29, 2003 12:00 am

Predicting the Playoffs

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Doug Pappas

After the 2003 regular season ended, the time before the divisional series was filled by "experts" forecasting the outcome of the four divisional series. This phenomenon will be repeated before the League Championship Series, and again before the World Series. These same pundits will look back after each series to pat themselves on the back, make excuses or explain how they went wrong. They believe, or at least pretend, that postseason results can be accurately predicted. Others believe that the postseason is essentially a crapshoot, that any club can win a succession of short series among eight clubs which all finished within 10-15 games of one another during the regular season. This group includes Billy Beane, quoted in Moneyball as saying: "My s*** doesn't work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is f****** luck." Those in the first group have criticized Beane's Oakland A's and Bobby Cox's Atlanta Braves as teams that "can't win the big ones"; those in the second think "clutch postseason performance" is as real as "clutch hitting," or the Easter Bunny. Who's right? Let's look at the past century of postseason play. Since 1903, there have been exactly 200 postseason championship series of best-of-five or longer. This includes 94 best-of-seven World Series, four best-of-nine World Series (1903, 1919-21), 34 best-of-seven League Championship Series (LCS), 32 best-of-five LCS, 32 best-of-five divisional series, and four best-of-five divisional playoff series following the 1981 strike-induced split season. That's a sizable data set.

Others believe that the postseason is essentially a crapshoot, that any club can win a succession of short series among eight clubs which all finished within 10-15 games of one another during the regular season. This group includes Billy Beane, quoted in Moneyball as saying: "My s*** doesn't work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is f****** luck." Those in the first group have criticized Beane's Oakland A's and Bobby Cox's Atlanta Braves as teams that "can't win the big ones"; those in the second think "clutch postseason performance" is as real as "clutch hitting," or the Easter Bunny.

Who's right? Let's look at the past century of postseason play. Since 1903, there have been exactly 200 postseason championship series of best-of-five or longer. This includes 94 best-of-seven World Series, four best-of-nine World Series (1903, 1919-21), 34 best-of-seven League Championship Series (LCS), 32 best-of-five LCS, 32 best-of-five divisional series, and four best-of-five divisional playoff series following the 1981 strike-induced split season. That's a sizable data set.

Read the full article...

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