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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

My talk was given on Friday at the Baltimore Convention Center. On Saturday after breakfast, we decided to visit the Babe Ruth Museum which is located just a few blocks away from Camden Yards. A trail of baseballs on the pavement led us to the museum. The museum is located on the site of the home that the Babe lived in for the first seven years of his life. The Babe’s original home was only 12 feet wide and consisted of three levels. Each level consisted of two small rooms. By adding several rooms to Ruth’s original home, the Babe Ruth Museum was created

. Visiting one small room in the Babe Ruth Museum opened my eyes to how special the 1918 World Series was. The year was 1918 and the World Series was between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. For Game 1, the Cubs were the home team but to accommodate a larger audience the game was shifted from Weeghman Park, renamed Wrigley Field in 1925, to Comiskey Park, the home of the White Sox. Game 1 of the 1918 World Series marked the first time “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed at a major league game. There are different versions of how and why this happened. This is the explanation provided at the museum.  Because our country was involved in WWI, President Woodrow Wilson, who attended the game, suggested that playing our national anthem during the game would be the patriotic thing to do. There was already a band hired to play various songs between the innings. The bottom of the seventh seemed to be most appropriate time because it was traditional for the fans to stand and stretch then. A sparse crowd of 19,274 fans stood up as the band began playing our national anthem. Playing third base for the Red Sox was Jackie Thomas who was on leave from the U.S. Navy. He immediately stood erect and saluted. The other players and fans followed his lead and also stood erect. When the final notes came the fans provided a thunderous applause.

The reason this story was told at the Babe Ruth Museum is that the pitcher on the mound for the Red Sox was none other than the Babe. The Red Sox won Game 1 by a score of 1-0 and Ruth pitched a complete game 4 hit shut-out stretching his post-season scoreless innings from 13 to 22. Ruth batted ninth and went 0-3. Because of the great fan response the national anthem was repeated in Game 2 during the bottom of the seventh. Game 2 was won by the Cubs 3-1. In Game 3 won by the Sox 2-1 the anthem was shifted to the beginning of the game where it stayed for the rest of the series. Game 4 won by the Sox 3-2 saw Ruth back on the mound pitching eight innings giving up two earned runs and driving in two of the runs with a triple. The Babe was the winning pitcher but his scoreless post-season streak ended at 29.

 In looking at the box-scores for the six games, I found it strange that Ruth only played in three of the six games. For games 1 and 4 he was the starting and winning pitcher and in Game 6 he was a late-inning defensive replacement and did not bat. This was strange since 1918 was the first time Ruth was allowed to play in the outfield when he did not pitch. In fact, Ruth hit .300, with 11 home runs, enough to secure him a share of the major league home run title. He was still used as a pitcher, and had a 13–7 record with a 2.22 ERA. Yet in the 1918 WS he had only 5 at bats with 1 hit and 2 RBIs

.Because WWI forced the early termination of the 1918 season, the 1918 WS is the only WS played entirely in September. It took 86 years for the Red Sox to win another WS; the Cubs last won a WS in 1908. Pitching dominated the1918 WS. The 9 runs scored by the winning Red Sox are the fewest runs scored by a winning team in WS history. Boston’s pitchers had a 1.70 ERA and Cub’s pitchers had an even better 1.04 ERA. The offense was anemic. The Cubs batted .210 and the Sox batted .186.with neither team hitting a home run.

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Joint Math Convention - Baltimore 2014

Here are a few pictures from my recent Baltimore visit. These pictures go along with my blog below so do read that first!


Of course, I also visited the Sports legend museum, Camden Yards, and Babe Ruth's birthplace, but I am saving that for a separate blog.


Views of the Inner Harbor

Inner Harbor Baltimore


Another Inner Harbor View



With my good friend from graduate school days, Professor Paul Humke, founder of the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics


Paul Humke


My editor, Vincent Burke, gives us a tour of Johns Hopkins University Press and I got to meet everyone who worked on my book, Sandlot Stats.

Tour of Johns Hopkins Press



With my editor in the Exhibit Hall in the Baltimore Convention Center.

Johns Hopkins Press Editor

Joint Math Convention Baltimore 2014


Here I am presenting my new research.


Dr. Stan the Stat's Man



Dr. Stan's New Formula


We see Manghild Lien, Executive Director of the Associatioin for Women in Mathematics manning her booth in the Exhibit Hall.





One night we ate dinner at the Yard in the Mariott Inner Harbor Hotel.  I complimented the waiter to his manager and look what the waiter brought us!


Thank You from Waiter





Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
Last week I was in Baltimore, MD, where I was invited to present my new formula at the Joint Mathematical Meeting of the American Math Society and the Mathematics Association of America. As discussed in previous blogs, I developed the following new formula to predict a team’s winning percentage:
Winning Percentage = .000683*(RS – RA) + 0.50 where RS is the runs scored and RA is the runs allowed by a team.
My presentation was one of an entire collection of talks under the topic “Math and Sports”. It was exciting to see how mathematics was applied to different sports. Other topics that day included:
  • A new method for ranking NBA players
  • A new WAR method for evaluating overall player performance in MLB
  • Optimizing a volleyball serve
  • Effective driving on the PGA tour
  • How math can lead to Fantasy Football Glory
  • The mathematics needed to analyze the death spiral in figure skating
My talk was well-received and generated some interesting questions, including “will my formula, which was based on the years 1998-2012, be valid for all the years of MLB (1876- )? “ With the help of my research student Alex we will try to answer this question.
The meeting was held at the Baltimore Convention Center. Like all conventions, this one had a huge exhibit hall with many textbook companies displaying their new and old books. Of course, Johns Hopkins University Press was there and my book was on display. My editor, Vincent Burke, gave us a tour of Baltimore and a tour of Johns Hopkins University Press. I was finally able to meet and thank all the people at Johns Hopkins who worked with me to create Sandlot Stats. I was so pleased to learn that Sandlot Stats is doing well, as a matter of fact, better than their initial expectations for it. Again, thank you to everyone who has supported me!
There were other math related booths, such as the Association for Women in Mathematics and the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics. These 2 are of special interest to me since Tara’s cousin is the Executive Director of AWM and my good friend from graduate school days started the Budapest program. In addition, the National Science Foundation, the National Security Association, and Actuarial Societies manned booths also.
What else would you see in a math convention exhibit hall? There was a whole area of math artists displaying their work. While extremely beautiful, their relationship to math was also evident in the designs. I was particularly intrigued with the three-dimensional drawings depicting various geometric shapes linked together. 
Of course, there were math t-shirts for sale and some non-related jewelry and scarves for the non-math guests or to be bought as presents to take home.
One main purpose of the convention is the “interview” room where prospective graduate students sign up for initial interviews with colleges and universities looking for math faculty. While I did not have to interview anyone this year, at past convention I was involved in this process and Quinnipiac was the lucky recipient of some excellent new faculty members.
The convention center is across the street from the Marriot Inner Harbor Hotel where I stayed. This hotel is just a few blocks from Camden Yards, the Orioles Stadium. Also right in this neighborhood is the Sports Legend Museum and the Babe Ruth Museum. The cold weather did not prevent us from exploring the area and visiting the museums. Not only was the convention a success, but I learned many new baseball facts and stories that I will share with you in the coming weeks.

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

On January 8, 2014, the voting results of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) for Baseball’s Hall of Fame were announced. Unlike 2013 when no player was elected, 2014 elected three new members to the HOF. They are Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. Maddux was the top vote-getter appearing on 555 of the 571 ballots giving him 97.2% of the votes, eighth highest in the history of voting. Maddux had a record of 355-227 and was a 4-time Cy Young winner with 18 gold gloves. Maddux’s teammate in Atlanta for many years Tom Glavine appeared on 91.9% of the ballots. Glavine, a 10-time All-Star and 2-time Cy Young winner, was 305-203.Frank Thomas played most of his career with the White Sox and was a lifetime.300 hitter with 521 home runs. A 2-time MVP he appeared on 83.7% of the ballots. What is interesting about Thomas was for more than 60% of his games he was a designated hitter, which makes him the first player who played more than 50% of his games as a DH to make the HOF. Maybe, this is a good omen for Edgar Martinez. These three players will join the three managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, elected last month by the Expansion-Era Committee, at the July 27 induction ceremony in Cooperstown. Cox was the manager at Atlanta during most of the careers of Maddux and Glavine. You can say this induction will be an Atlanta Braves celebration.

If you read my December Blog on the HOF you will see that these were the three players I predicted had the best chance of making it.

What about those players that received less than the 75% votes needed for election? Unfortunately, there were writers who admitted to leaving any player who played during the Steroid Era off their ballot. Does anyone know when the Steroid Era exactly began? I don’t think so. It can be conjectured that Craig Biggio, who missed being elected by two votes, tying him for the smallest margin to miss election with Nellie Fox (1985), was a victim of the philosophy of these writers. Biggio collected over 3000 hits in his career. His vote percentage increased from 68.2% in 2013 to 74.8%. Since all players eligible for the HOF that belong to the 3000-hit club are in the HOF except for Rose, Biggio, and Palmeiro, I feel he is a lock for next year.  Of course Rose is permanently banned from the HOF. Palmeiro is one of four players in ML history that belong to the 3000-hit club and the 500-home run club. The other three are Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray. Testing positive for PEDs in 2005 clearly accounts for him receiving only 4.4% of the votes. The rules of the HOF say once your vote for a year falls below 5% you will be officially off the ballot next year. Right behind Biggio in the voting was Mike Piazza with 62.2% of the votes in his second year on the ballot. This was 5% higher than his first year’s percentage. Although loosely linked to PEDs, Piazza is on his way to eventually making it. Jack Morris is the second player in the history of Hall of Fame voting to get at least 50% of the votes in a given year and fail to eventually be voted into the HOF; Gil Hodges being the other. This is his 15th and last year of his eligibility. I believe both Morris and Hodges and will eventually make it through the Expansion-Era Committee. This brings us to those players strongly linked to PED use. Roger Clemens (37.6 percent in 2013 to 35.4 percent in 2014),  Barry Bonds (36.2 to 34.7), Mark McGwire (16.9 to 11.0) and  Sammy Sosa (12.5 to 7.2) all saw the vote percentage decline this year.

Frank Thomas in an interview summed up the feelings of many Hall of Famers and voters for the Hall of Fame when he said, "I've got to take the right stance, too. No, they shouldn't get in, there shouldn't be cheating allowed to get into the Hall of Fame.”

Future blogs will address any changes made to the voting procedure for the HOF.

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

In March of 2006, the MLB appointed Sen. George Mitchell to investigate the history of PEDs in baseball. The Mitchell Report was released in December of 2007. Besides naming several offenders, the report said, “The illegal use of performance-enhancing substances poses a serious threat to the integrity of the game. Widespread use by players of such substances unfairly disadvantaged the honest athletes who refused to use them and raised questions about the validity of baseball records.” This brings us to the much debated question about whether a player, who either admitted to PED use or is a suspected PED user, should be voted into the Hall of Fame.This posting will give arguments for the admittance of any player, based solely on his statistics without regard to PED use.

The only player currently on the 2014 ballot that tested positive is Rafael Palmeiro. Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids and is on the ballot. That means the rest of the players on the ballot who played during the Steroid Era can only be suspected users, by virtue of other player accusations or because of the change in their physical appearance. In our legal system you are assumed innocent unless proven guilty.

In the 2013 voting by the baseball writers no player was voted into the Hall of Fame. Sure-fire Hall of Famers like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, and other borderline Hall of Famers that are suspected users are clogging the ballots. Since receiving 5% of the votes keeps you on the ballot for next year, more and more of these players will add to the crowded ballots. Since each voter can only vote for a maximum of 10 players, this makes it very difficult for any player to appear on the necessary 75% of the ballots. It is conceivable that in future years we will also have no players elected. The list of Hall of Famers include racists, drunkards, wife-beaters and players who cheated by doctoring the baseball or corking their bats. What about those players already in the Hall of Fame, too numerous to mention, who have used amphetamines to enhance their performance and extend their careers? Should we kick Willie Mays out of the Hall? If we don’t allow record holders into the Hall of Fame what do we do with their records? After all, the quest to establish new records in baseball is a very important part of the history of baseball. Do we now say the record for home runs in a season belongs to Roger Maris at 61? Oh, they played 162 games in 1961 instead of 154 games so the record for home runs belongs to Babe Ruth’s at 60. This can be a slippery slope for baseball.What if a player admitted to using PEDs for just one year or just one time? Will that disqualify the player from the Hall of Fame? In the case of Barry Bonds by the year 1997 he already had established the necessary numbers to be elected. Andy Pettitte admitted to using PEDs to overcome an injury to quicken his return to baseball. Baseball players are human beings that make wrong decisions. Why not forgive these players and look only at their accomplishments in baseball.

In surveys done of existing players who are in the Hall of Fame many have said if they played in the Steroid Era they would have taken PEDs. The reasons they gave were peer pressure and a belief that PED users had an unfair advantage over them. Finally, many people think that the MLB wasn’t overly concerned by the use of PEDs. Yes, the Commissioners voiced their concerns but it was really just lip-service. It wasn’t until 2004 that true testing and true punishments took place. After all, the owners of most of the teams are business men concerned only with putting fannies in their seats. The home run records set by McGwire, Bonds, and Sosa did just that. Baseball fans love home runs and these players gave them what they wanted to see.

 To be continued with arguments against admittance …



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