We plan on making the Mailbag a regular BP feature, but we can’t do it without
your input. If you’ve got questions about any article on the site, click the
e-mail link at the bottom of the page to write to the author and we’ll do our best
to reply. If you’ve got a general question and aren’t sure who to write, buzz us at
We’d like to see more data in your
Living Pitcher debate. For instance, can you adjust for defense in your rankings?
Here’s some more data for the Greatest Living Pitcher debate:
TotRAR PRAR DRAR DERA WARP Clemens 1723 1253 470 2.68 141.9 Maddux 1539 1009 530 2.93 116.5 Martinez 807 593 214 2.50 66.8 Johnson 1187 896 291 2.88 101.1 Spahn 1995 1235 760 3.46 147.0 Gibson 1571 1045 526 3.24 125.7 Koufax 993 714 279 2.99 80.8 Seaver 1931 1244 687 3.20 144.2 Carlton 1856 1173 683 3.61 137.8
TotRAR is the total runs above replacement for the team while a given pitcher
was in the game. PRAR and DRAR break that into the pitching and defensive
portions of runs above replacement.
Note that Greg Maddux already has had more runs contributed by his defense than
Roger Clemens, despite having a three-year disadvantage. And it would appear that
Clemens passed both Warren Spahn and Tom Seaver last year for the most
career PRAR by a living pitcher.
Pedro Martinez currently has the better defense-adjusted ERA than Clemens, but in a
lot less innings and without post-30 work. We’ll see later; note that Clemens
was at 2.55 just three years ago. Maddux is fourth.
Clemens currently trails Spahn and Seaver in overall WARP, as both were able to
add some Batting Above Position to bolster their totals (70 runs for Spahn, 36
Maddux had the misfortune to have his best seasons in 1994-95, when the strike
held down his season WARP scores, so his best seasons don’t quite measure up to
everyone else’s here. So I see it as Clemens, hands down. Maddux has a very
tough road ahead to pass him.
A friend of mine e-mailed me telling me about your Player of the Day. Since Andy
Van Hekken is my cousin I thought I would go to your website and check it out.
It was very nice of your website to write a little on him, but I would like to
let you know that all the stats are very wrong. I know Prospectus takes pride in
what they do, so please make sure you and your fellow writers pay close
attention to correctness. This is not a big deal, but come on, there are a few
people who care about doing things right.
If you’re going to make someone a Player of the Day, you should make sure you’ve
got your facts right. It just makes you look like you know what you’re doing a
It’s not often we get a note about the Player of the Day, and since it takes me
5-10 minutes every day to make a selection, I’m happy you took the time to write.
The stats that you see are "translated stats", a system that is best
explained in our annual book. In a nutshell, players’ numbers are adjusted for
the league and ballpark in which they played and are their "major league
equivalent" or our best guess as to how a player would have performed in
an offensively neutral major league ballpark. That is why Andy’s translations
look worse than his real statistics. However, compared to other pitchers in the
leagues in which he played, they are actually quite good.
As a Seattleite, I’ve been pulling for your cousin ever since Woody Woodward made
the boneheaded move of sacrificing him to acquire an out machine like
Brian Hunter. Despite lacking big-time velocity, he knows how to pitch.
Maybe we’ll get a chance to see him wear the Olde English "D" in
I’d be very interested in hearing Baseball Prospectus’ opinion on this.
My opinion is that this is Jim’s personal vendetta, and that he’s wrong,
but you’ll never convince him of that.
He has this in his note:
"I encourage anyone who finds these analyses convincing to spread the word
about Oh in his/her baseball-related newsgroups and mailing lists. This is
especially true for you fans of Ichiro and Kazuhiro Sasaki. Putting Oh in
the HOF for his exploits in Japan will provide a precedent both Ichiro and
Sasaki would need to be inducted–namely that performance in Japanese baseball
can and should be considered in determining a players’ worthiness for induction."
I think he’s missing one huge point: Oh never played in the U.S., while Sasaki
and Suzuki have. Given an American link, their play elsewhere becomes a
legitimate part of their candidacy; without it, it doesn’t. I think the precedent
for that has already been set by Martin Dihigo, a much bigger star
in Cuba and Mexico than the U.S. Negro Leagues – although, like Ichiro so far,
he excelled in the U.S. as well.
Oh has no connection to U.S. baseball, and should not be inducted – any more than
Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth (touring once isn’t enough) should be inducted
into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. I’ll note that Lefty O’Doul
recently became the first American (OK, I guess Wally Yonamine was the first
American, but he was ethnically Japanese and played baseball entirely in Japan)
inducted into Japan’s HoF – not for his play in the U.S., but for his repeated
efforts to build Japanese baseball by touring, training, and coaching – what we’d
list in the U.S. Hall of Fame as a pioneer.
I realize that you’ve become pretty good at tooting your own horn
but sensibility seems to be the least of your worries.
Case in point #1: Your chart of R/capita is almost completely dependent on
market size. No team in the top 13 is over 4 million adj. MSA, only the Canadian
teams are less than 5 million adj. MSA in the bottom 9. And it makes sense.
Stadiums have a finite capacity, therefore the only way to raise revenues is to
a) build a Tokyo Dome-sized concrete behemoth, or b) increase the ticket prices.
And I don’t think either or those are grand ideas. I suppose you could get a
great TV deal, but that’s still not going to make up the difference of 9 million
people. So you are punishing teams simply for being in large markets, and
forcing them to see how much money they can squeeze from the locals.
Case in point #2: Oakland vs. San Francisco. Three of the top five richest
counties in the U.S. are located west of the SF Bay. None of the top five are
located on the east bay. Yet you treat SF and Oakland as equals. And so with
your scheme Oakland and San Francisco stay the exact same dollar amount apart.
Except that I would argue that Oakland has done much more with less than any
team in the country. The only thing SF should be rewarded for is an owner who
was willing to build a stadium with his own milk money. Oakland/Alameda County
allowed the stadium to be ruined (at least worse than it was) for Al Davis.
While you aren’t helping the A’s, you aren’t hurting them either.
Case in point #3: The Mets and Angels are NEVER, EVER going to draw 50% of their
populace. EVER. The Yankees and Dodgers are two of the most historic, popular,
competitive teams in all of sports. There are whole families who have lived and
died with the Yankees and the Dodgers. To expect, and punish, the Mets and
Angels for not living up to the revenue streams of their cross-town brothers is
idiotic at best, and downright disrespectful of history. No individual in the
world will ever be able to pull the Mets or the Angels even with the Yankees or
Case 1: You’re entirely right, stadiums have finite capacities and abilities
to draw on metro populations. So in New York, for instance, the Yankees aren’t
ever going to draw 240,000 a game, even if they get that new stadium they want.
Which is why they should toss more teams in, so those under-served fans can
attend more games. If you do some quick math, if the Mets/Yankees allowed a
team in Jersey, their burden goes down substantially but, as you note, it
wouldn’t hurt their attendance or probably even their other related revenues
Case 2: There’s certainly more to be done with affluence levels, and I looked
into doing some per-capita income/cost of living adjustment work, and
particularly at where the income quartiles broke out. But for purposes of
throwing out a simple-to-understand plan that ran under 10 pages, I didn’t run
Case 3: Partially related to Case 1, but the Angels and Mets aren’t being
punished for not living up to the standards of their brothers, and I’m not sure
where you got that impression. They’re being forced to share money because
they’re in gigantic markets that could house additional teams. How much they
make, and how much their sister teams make, doesn’t enter into any of the
I wrote this up to make people think about how revenue sharing could be
implemented, and look outside payroll and revenue numbers for solutions that
improve baseball. If you’re interested in reading an extremely long, detailed
version of this article, maybe we’ll go ahead and post that.
I noticed the Red Sox are a whopping seven games below their expected
Pythagorean record. What’s the largest ever deviation from the expected in a
On the plus side:
EW=expected wins, using a modified version of the Pythagorean theorem
(the exponent is variable, according to runs per game)
R RA W EW Del 1905 DET-A 511 608 79 65 14.0 1955 KC_-A 638 911 63 51 11.7 1984 NY_-N 652 676 90 78 11.7 1954 BRO-N 778 740 92 81 11.3 1970 CIN-N 775 681 102 91 11.2 1972 NY_-N 528 578 83 72 11.1 1924 BRO-N 717 675 92 81 10.6 1917 STL-N 531 567 82 72 10.3 1961 CIN-N 708 653 93 83 10.2 1894 NY_-N 940 789 88 78 10.0 1932 PIT-N 701 711 86 76 10.0 1936 STL-N 795 794 87 77 9.9 1997 SF_-N 784 793 90 80 9.9 1913 WAS-A 596 566 90 81 9.5 1946 WAS-A 608 706 76 66 9.5 1974 SD_-N 541 830 60 51 9.4 1977 BAL-A 719 653 97 88 9.4 1981 CIN-N 464 440 66 57 9.4 1886 PHI-A 772 942 63 54 9.3 1998 KC_-A 715 899 72 63 9.2
And on the down side:
R RA W EW Del 1993 NY_-N 672 744 59 73 -14.3 1986 PIT-N 663 700 64 77 -13.0 1911 PIT-N 744 558 85 97 -11.9 1984 PIT-N 615 567 75 87 -11.7 1967 BAL-A 654 592 76 88 -11.6 1975 HOU-N 664 711 64 75 -11.4 1907 CIN-N 524 519 66 77 -11.1 1935 BOS-N 575 852 38 49 -11.1 1924 STL-N 740 750 65 76 -11.0 1946 PHI-A 529 680 49 60 -11.0 1905 STL-A 509 608 54 65 -10.8 1937 CIN-N 612 707 56 67 -10.8 1905 CHI-N 667 442 92 103 -10.7 1999 KC_-A 856 921 64 75 -10.6 1993 SD_-N 679 772 61 71 -10.3 1917 PIT-N 464 595 51 61 -10.0 1970 CHI-N 806 679 84 94 -10.0 1932 NY_-N 755 706 72 82 -9.9 1955 DET-A 775 658 79 89 -9.9 1972 SF_-N 662 649 69 79 -9.9
Notice the ’84 and ’86 Pirates in spots 2 and 4; the ’85 Pirates were
7.8 games below expectation, which is the worst three-year stretch ever.
BOTTOM OF THE NINTH
I am contacting you to ask for help in rectifying the terrible injustice being
visited upon fans of the Tour de France.
Since 1983, this race has been won by an American seven times. That’s right:
seven times! And those seven wins went to just two riders. Furthermore, six of
the remaining 13 Tour titles went to two cyclists from Spain. Three of the
remaining seven winners were from France, leaving four oppressed, small-market
nations (including tiny Germany) to pick up the crumbs.
For too long we fans of international cycling have been forced to suffer through
year-in, year-out Tour dominance by a handful of overpaid athletes from a tiny
elite of high-revenue nations. Every summer, the vast majority of the world’s
long-distance cycling fans look forward to the Tour knowing that their nations’
representatives don’t have a snowball’s chance of wearing the yellow jersey at
the conclusion of the final stage.
What can we do? It seems only fair that the Lance Armstrongs, Miguel Indurains
and Greg LeMonds of the world be stripped of their respective citizenships and
forced to resettle in nations that have yet to produce a Tour winner. This would
inject some fairness — some balance, as it were — into the Tour. Nations that
otherwise lack the ability to succeed in cycling would finally be able to bring
home a title or two.
I ask that you use you connections and influence in the world of sport to help
me make this plan a reality.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now