If you want fame, acclamation, and All-Star recognition, maybe playing time--more playing time--is the best way to judge.
Welcome to the latest edition of Prospectus Toolbox. We're back to conceptual topics this week-we're not going to talk about a specific statistic or report, but rather the factor that effects how statistics and performance are perceived. That factor is time, specifically playing time.
Jonah Keri checks in with some historical comparables for Albert Pujols.
But compare Albert Pujols’ performance in the first five years of his career to those of MLB’s other greats, and the name Prince starts to look inadequate. By the numbers, Pujols looks more like a king.
Pujols’ first five seasons rank among the top 10 performances in major league history by just about every advanced metric possible. BP’s Equivalent Average stat lets us compare hitters across all eras by adjusting for league and park effects and quality of competition. The result is then boiled down to a number that runs along the same scale as batting average. If a hitter nets a .350 EqA, he’s a superstar. If he puts up a .175, he shouldn't be in the big leagues.
Dan takes a closer look at platoon splits, responding to some questions about why splits aren't taken more seriously in sabermetric circles.
That quote is from one of my favorite authors (himself a big baseball fan), and was appropriately used by Nate Silver when he introduced the PECOTA system in the 2003 Baseball Prospectus. The concepts embodied in the quote have been on my mind the past couple of weeks, ever since I mentioned Wily Mo Pena's platoon split in my inaugural column and received a healthy dose of reader feedback.
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Kevin moves over to the senior circuit, highlighting NL players who have seen their stock rise or fall in spring training.
With spring training close to wrapping up and most prospects without big league jobs already reassigned to minor league camp, it's not too early to take a look at the spring statistics to see which player's stocks are rising and falling. Spring stats should always be taken with a grain of salt, so here's some additional background of some of the National League's best and worst performances by prospects. Statistics are through games of March 27.
Kevin takes a look at some AL players who have seen their stock rise or fall this spring.
With spring training close to wrapping up, and most prospects without big league jobs already reassigned to minor league camp, it's not too early to take a look at the spring statistics to see which players' stocks are rising and falling. Spring stats should always be taken with a grain of salt, so here's some additional background of some of the American League's best and worst performances by prospects. Statistics are through games of March 26.
James Click LOBs a few thoughts on teams struggling to knock in runs.
Box scores are disappearing. While we still find them in their traditional
format in newspapers and across the Web, the ability to read several articles about
each game, daily updated stat reports, and play-by-play logs largely nullify the
need to manually keep track of how many home runs your favorite player has or to
discern the events of each game from a very limited set of numbers. The days of trying
to figure out how a player scored a run without an AB or why another player has
one fewer plate appearance than everyone else despite being in the middle of the
order are--for the most part--gone.
Following up last week's column, James continues to explore optimal lineup construction.
One of the more interesting questions left unanswered last week was
just how important sorting by OBP or SLG is. By using two lineups for
each metric--one in ascending order and one in descending order--it
was clear that players with higher OBP and SLG should be near the top of
the order. Sorting by absolutely the wrong way only changed the lineup
output by 26 runs at the OBP mean and 13 at the SLG mean. Considering
the sample size and the standard deviations, the results were close to
statistically significant, but the confidence was not high. Thus, we
could only loosely conclude that OBP is more important than SLG when
determining a lineup order when all other factors are equal.
The one that sticks in my head three weeks later? "Beltran or Bernie Williams at his peak?" I haven't wanted to call a time out on television too often, but if I could have paused the segment there to do some research, I would have. I ended up choosing Beltran at the time, for his defensive edge and the runs he creates on the bases, but it was a weak call. I just wasn't sure, and I guess that makes it a great question.
Derek Zumsteg tosses out some numbers and some insight on Barry Bonds, as the greatest hitter of all-time nears the 700-homer milestone.
After Davis, Bonds faces Jorge de la Rosa. My "pitching probables" page doesn't even want to speculate on who might be the unlucky kid who draws the short strand of spaghetti out of Ned Yost's hand Thursday when the Brewers report to the park.