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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Barry Bonds played 22 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Pirates and the Giants. He is without a doubt considered one of the greatest players in the history of baseball. He was a seven-time MVP, 14-time All-Star selection, and an eight-time Gold Glove winner. He holds many MLB batting records including most career home runs (762), most home runs in a single season (73), and most career walks. According to he is second only to The Bambino in a Career-WAR (career wins above a replacement player). In my book “Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball”, I rank Barry Bonds the sixth greatest hitter of All-Time behind Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, and Ty Cobb. His statistics should make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer. YES, not so fast! There was a flaw in his character. He was a central figure in 2007 steroids scandal. He was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to the Grand Jury during the BALCO investigation. Both charges were either overturned or later dropped. Despite his baseball greatness the Baseball Writers of America have rejected him in his first four years of eligibility.

Let’s fast forward to 2016 Spring Training. Bonds signed a contract to be the co-hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. In his first news conference, appearing for the first time in a baseball uniform in nine years, he was asked about the Hall of Fame. He responded by saying that God knows and he knows he should be in the Hall of Fame. I don’t know what God is thinking but I agree with Barry that he should be elected to the Hall of Fame. Remember the Hall of Fame is not the Hall of Saints. Let’s look at a few such flawed players in the Hall of Fame. Some of these include Ty Cobb (supposedly a racist), Tris Speaker (supposedly a member of the KKK), and Gaylord Perry (cheater with Vaseline on baseball)

I would add a few more character flawed players to the Hall of Fame. Two such players that come to mind immediately are Joe Jackson, implicated in the Black Sox Scandal of 1920, and Pete Rose, accused of betting on baseball and then lying about it.

Shoeless Joe Jackson played 13 years in the majors (1908-1920). He career ended prematurely due to the Black Sox Scandal. Some of Joe Jackson’s notable baseball statistics include batting .408 in his first season as a rookie, second only to Ty Cobb with .420 and the highest ever by a rookie. In 1912, Joe batted .395 and led the league with 26 triples. In 1913, he led the league with 197 hits. He has the third highest career batting average at .356. Bill James ranks him as the 33rd greatest non-pitcher in Major League History.

Now everyone knows the story of Pete Rose, the career hits leader at 4256 hits. He played 24 years in the majors (1963-1986). He was a 17-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, and MVP in 1973. Added to these notable statistics is the way he played the game. His nickname “Charlie Hustle” tells that story. Because of his lack of power numbers he was only an Honorable Mention on my All-Time list in my book.

The time has come to change the Hall of Fame selection method. We now have the ability, as I did in my book, to base selection on actual player statistics. The Hall of Fame should not be a popularity contest or a judgement process on a player’s personal life and transgressions. Let’s face it when we are young many of us, including myself, make bad decisions. Let a player’s work between the lines determine his selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Please comment on your thoughts about my blog. 

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

This January I gave similar talks at both the Math Conference in Seattle Washington and at the Kiwanis Club of Naples on the Gulf. Both talks discussed my philosophy of teaching. That is, the teaching of any subject matter is more successful for the teacher and more enjoyable for the student if the student both understands the underlying content associated with the subject matter and also enjoys that content.

Kiwanis Club of Naples on the Gulf

Joint Math 2016

This philosophy led me to a different way of teaching the subject matter of statistics. In my course Baseball and Statistics, given each semester at Quinnipiac University, I teach an introductory course in statistics using the data from baseball. My students learn the same concepts as those students who take  other introductory statistics classes such as in my biostatistics class. However, my feedback from the students in my baseball statistics class versus my biostatistics class is quite different. The difference is the students enjoy my baseball statistics class much more and seem to understand the concepts of statistics more. At the end of my baseball course students approach me and ask if they can do research with me. I am currently on sabbatical but two students from my fall baseball class will start researching with me next fall. One student is a male and the other is a female. In fact, each semester about 25% of the baseball class is made up of females.

The background which led to the establishment of my baseball and statistics course began in 2008 when Quinnipiac created a Sports Minor. I was then approached by the faculty director of the Sports Minor asking me to teach a course in sabermetrics, the science of using statistics to make objective decisions about baseball. Being a big baseball fan, A Yankee fan I might add, I loved the idea of combining two things I really enjoy baseball and statistics. However, I did not want to just teach sabermetrics but instead I wanted to teach a true introductory statistics course with baseball. In searching for a textbook I discovered that there were many sabermetrics books but no book to teach an introductory statistics course with baseball.  Coincidentally, at the same time I was contacted by an editor for Johns Hopkins University Press about writing such a textbook. What led him to email me was he saw my course listed online. I agreed to do it and started my writing in 2008. The book “Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball” was published in 2012 by Johns Hopkins Press.

The first 15 chapters teach the concepts and the last three chapters apply these concepts to actual research problems. One chapter develops a formula for predicting batting streaks such as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and another chapter tries to answer the question: Will a current player ever bat over .400 for a season? The last chapter uses 12 statistics to decide on the top ten hitters of all-time.

In my course, the students also read the book “Moneyball” so they can see how the statistics they are learning can be used in the real world. My book can be and is used both at high schools and at colleges to teach an introductory statistics course to those students who enjoy baseball. The book can also be used by any person who wants to learn statistics in a fun way. You can find the book online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Please go to my website to read the testimonials given by students and reviewers of my book. While there you can read my Interesting Facts about baseball. , 

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

On Wednesday, January 6, 2016 Baseball’s Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson announced that former Seattle Mariners great Ken Griffey Jr. was among two players elected to the Hall as part of the Class of 2016.  Griffey becomes the 51st first ballot Hall of Fame member, and joins Mike Piazza in this year’s class. Griffey received 99.3% of the votes, the most in baseball history.

His 22 year career in the Major Leagues spanned from 1989 to 2010. From 1989 to 1999 he was a member of the Mariners. Traded to the Reds in 2000 he stayed with them until 2009 when he re-signed with Seattle and finished his career there.

How is my simple tour of Safeco Field related to Ken Griffey Jr. and the Hall of Fame? Well as it turned out my tour was on Sunday, January 10, 2016, 4 days after the announcement. On the day before my tour of Safeco, Ken Griffey flew across the country to appear at a press conference at Safeco Field. As part of our tour the guide took us to the actual conference room and you could see on the table the actual left over documents handed out to the press. I walked to the stage where Griffey stood the day before and looked out at the seats which led me to remembering what a truly great player he was.

Safeco Field Press room

Dr. Stan at Safeco Field Press Room

“Junior”, as he is called, was the first player selected in the 1987 draft and is the first member of the Hall of Fame to be selected first overall. He meets the definition of a five-tool player and was one of 30 players named to MLB’s All-Century team in 1999. Ken and his father Ken Sr. made history as the first father and son teammates in the big leagues. They also hit back-to-back homes runs in a game. It was Ken Griffey Jr.’s original idea to honor Jackie Robinson by wearing number 42 for the Mariner’s game on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15. Bud Selig then followed his lead by ruling that all players wear 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.  

His baseball statistics are eye-popping. They include belting 630 home runs, sixth on the all-time list. From 1990-1999 as a member of the Mariners, he was a member of 10 All-Star teams, received 10 Gold Glove Awards, he was an AL home run champion four times, and was the unanimous AL MVP in 1997 (just the 13th player to do it). He was on several all-time lists being 7th in XBHs, 14th in RBIs, 13th in total bases, 26th in total runs scored, and 8th in multi-HR games.

Joining the Reds in 2000 he hit 40 HRs and drove in 118 runs. That year he was voted to the NL All-Star team. The next several years Griffey was beset by many injuries which limited the number of games he played and probably stopped him from becoming the all-time home run leader. By playing in 2010 he became the 29th Major Leaguer to play in at least four decades.

Ken has always been active in his community. The Ken Griffey Jr. Family Foundation supports many charities and local clubs. As part of his induction into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame in 2013, the Ken Griffey Family Endowment for Pediatric Cancer Research was established.

With all the cheating and PED use in baseball, Ichiro Suzuki, who I talked about in my last blog, and Ken Griffey Jr. both performed at the highest level without cheating. Congratulations Ken Griffey Jr. you are a credit to baseball.




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