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May 15, 2017 11:33:04
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Monday, May 15, 2017 marks the 76th anniversary of the beginning of Joe DiMaggio’s record 56game hitting streak, which ran from May 15 to July 16, 1941. The streak ended On July 17 when he went 0for3 against the Indians, with third baseman Ken Keltner making two outstanding plays to stop the streak.
In Chapter 16 of my book, “Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball,” I developed a new formula which uses a player’s seasonal batting statistics to assign a probability of that player duplicating any batting streak. Then I apply my formula to calculate which players had the highest probabilities of duplicating special batting streaks. Of course, the most talked about batting streak is DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak. Another interesting streak belongs to Ted Williams when in 1949 he reached base successfully in 84 straight games. Which streak was harder to achieve? My formula assigned DiMaggio a probability of .0001 (1/10,000) and assigned Williams a probability of .0935 (935/10,000) of achieving their respective streaks. This says that, using their batting statistics for 1941 and 1949, for every 10,000 seasons DiMaggio would duplicate his streak one time while Williams in 10,000 seasons would duplicate his streak 935 times. Clearly, DiMaggio’s streak was the harder to achieve.
I also applied my formula to many other batting streaks such as the most consecutive games with at least one home run, the most consecutive games without striking out and many other streaks. If you are interested in seeing the mathematics I used to develop my formula and the players who actually own these records, please read Chapter 16titled ‘Streaking’ in my book.
Below are the players with the longest hitting streaks in both the Major and Minor Leagues. Observe that Joe is the only player that appears on both lists.
In a recent article Sara Lang looked at the streak by the numbers:
.408: DiMaggio hit .408 (91for223) during the streak with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs.
.375: He entered May 15 (the first game of the streak) with a .306 batting average. That rose to .375 after the July 16 game, the final game of the streak.
4: DiMaggio faced four future Hall of Fame pitchers: Lefty Grove, Hal Newhouser, Bob Feller and Ted Lyons.
10: DiMaggio extended the streak in his final plate appearance 10 times, as Elias research notes.
16:DiMaggio started a 16game hitting streak the game after the 56game one ended. So he hit in 72 of 73 games total. In those 73 games, he had 120 hits, 20 home runs and six strikeouts.
44: The longest hitting streak since DiMaggio’s is a 44gamer by Pete Rose in 1978.
29: The longest hitting streak by a Yankees player since DiMaggio’s streak ended is a 29gamer by Hall of Famer Joe Gordon in 1942. Derek Jeter’s longest hitting streak was 25 games in 2006. Don Mattingly’s longest was 24 in 1986. Those are the three longest for the Yankees since DiMaggio.

August 8, 2016 08:11:42
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The book, “Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports,” written by Kostya Kennedy takes you through a day by day account of Joe DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak in 1941. Many baseball people believe this streak will never be duplicated. It should be noted that 1941 was also the last year a player ended a season with over a .400 batting average when Ted Williams batted .406. In Chapter 16 of my book, “Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball,” I develop a new formula which uses a player’s seasonal batting statistics to assign a probability of that player duplicating any batting streak. Then I apply my formula to calculate which players had the highest probabilities of duplicating special batting streaks. Of course, the most talked about batting streak is DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak. Another interesting streak belongs to Ted Williams when in 1949 he reached base successfully in 84 straight games. Which streak was harder to achieve? My formula assigned DiMaggio a probability of .0001 (1/10,000) and assigned Williams a probability of .0935 (935/10,000) of achieving their respective streaks. This says that, using their batting statistics for 1941 and 1949, for every 10,000 seasons DiMaggio would duplicate his streak one time while Williams in 10,000 seasons would duplicate his streak 935 times. Clearly DiMaggio’s streak was the harder to achieve.
I also apply my formula to many other batting streaks such as the most consecutive games with at least one home run, the most consecutive games with at least one extra base hit, the most consecutive games with at least two or more hits, the most consecutive games without striking out and many other streaks. If you are interested in seeing the mathematics I used to develop my formula and the players who actually own these records, please read Chapter 16titled ‘Streaking’ in my book.
A discussion of DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak always resurfaces whenever a player starts approaching DiMaggio’s record. The Cleveland Indians 20year old catcher Francisco Mejia, ranked their number four prospect, playing for the HighA Lynchburg Hillcats entered August batting .344. On Aug.4, he extended his hitting to 45 games by doubling in the 9^{th} inning after going 04. As of this writing his hitting streak stands at 47 games. This ranks his streak as the 7^{th} longest in Minor League history.
Below are the players with the longest hitting streak in both the Major and Minor Leagues. There are many observations that can be made from these two tables. DiMaggio is the only player that appears on both lists. In fact, his 61game streak in the Minors was longer than his 56game streak in the Majors. Yes, Joe D. was a very special player. Except for Joe the other players listed in the Minor League Table had limited Major League success. In contrast, the Major League players listed are all Hall of Fame caliber players. What conclusions can you draw from this?

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June 4, 2016 05:45:49
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

In 2016, 2 record batting streaks have been in the news. The 2 batting streaks are Joe DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak and Ted Williams’ 84game getting onbase streak. DiMaggio’s streak means he got a hit in 56 consecutive games; whereas, Williams’ streak means in 84 consecutive games he reached base with either a hit, a baseonballs or a hitbypitch. The 2 players toying with these 2 streaks in 2016 were Jackie Bradley Jr. and Marcell Ozuna. Bradley’s hitting streak ended at 29 consecutive games. Ozuna’s onbase streak ended at 36 consecutive games. How does one compare different batting streaks to choose which one is the most impressive? Most impressive means harder to achieve.
In an article by Herm Krabbenhoft which appeared in the Baseball Research Journal, he compares DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak to Williams’ 84game onbase streak. Krabbenhoft gives his answer in terms of approachability. He states, “Since DiMaggio achieved his streak in 1941, the closest any major league player has come to it was the 44game hitting streak by Pete Rose in 1978. Fortyfour is 78.6% of the way to 56. Since Williams achieved his 84game streak in 1949, the closest any player has come to it were the 58 consecutive game onbase streak by Duke Snider in 1954 and Barry Bonds in 2003. Fiftyeight is 69% of the way to 84. So, with the above approachability considerations in mind, it can be argued that Teddy Ballgame’s 84 game onbase safely streak may be the greatest batting achievement of all.” Since Krabbenhoft’s article was published in 2004, Orlando Cabrera recorded a consecutive game onbase streak of 63 games in 2006. Sixtythree is 75% of the way to 84. This blows a hole in the approachability argument.
As a sabermetrician, I give my answer using probability theory. Which player DiMaggio or Williams, based on their statistics for that year, had the smallest probability of achieving their streak? Using the number of games played, number of plate appearances and number of successes of any player combined with the length of the streak, I created a probability formula which gives the probability of any player, based on their season’s batting statistics, duplicating any batting streak. The development of my probability formula for different batting streaks can be found in two books. In my book, Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball, published by John Hopkins Press I devote the entire Chapter 16 to comparing different batting streaks. My research on streaks was also published as Chapter 4 in the book Mathematics and Sports, published by the Mathematical Association of America.
Applying my probability formula to both players’ streaks, here are the results.For the year 1941, the probability of Joe DiMaggio achieving his 56game hitting streak was 0.0001 or 0.01%. For the year 1949, the probability of Ted Williams achieving his 84game onbase streak was 0.0944 or 9.44%. For every 10,000 seasons, we would have expected DiMaggio in 1941 to accomplish his streak once while we would have expected Williams in 1949 to accomplish his streak 944 times. Ted Williams himself said, “I believe there isn’t a record on the books that will be tougher to break than Joe DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak.”
Based on the probabilities calculated above, I agree with Williams that DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak is the more impressive.What about the probabilities associated with the 2016 streaks of Bradley and Ozuna? As for Bradley’s 29game hitting streak his probability was 0.00281 or 0.281%.
Ozuna probability of a 36game onbase streak was 0.0125 or 1.25%. Bradley’s streak is the more impressive one.
If you are wondering why Williams’ 84game streak had such a high probability of occurring in 1949 the lengthy answer is in my book.

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May 30, 2016 07:26:46
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

In my last blog posting I talked about the book, What I Learned from Jackie Robinson, written by the great Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine. If you have not read this posting I know you will be inspired by how he used what he learned from Jackie Robinson to raise his son Jimmy who was born with Down’s syndrome. This new blog posting will look at a second book written by Erskine titled, Tales from the Dodger Dugout. Carl Erskine pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the L.A. Dodgers from 1948 until 1959. He was a pitching mainstay on Dodger teams that won 6 National League Pennants and the 1955 World Series. Some of his notable teammates included Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Clem Labine, Billy Cox, Joe Black, and Don Newcombe. Roger Khan immortalized the Dodgers of the 50s with his 1972 book, The Boys of Summer. The early 50s was a time in New York when there were three teams, the Yankees, NY Giants, and Brooklyn Dodgers. Each team had a great centerfielder, Mantle for the Yankees, Mays for the Giants and Snider for the Dodgers. The big question was: Who was the best centerfielder in NY? Of course, being a diehard Yankee fan, you know what my answer was.
Below is pictured Snider, DiMaggio, Mays and Mantle walking in from centerfield on July 16,1977, at Shea Stadium on OldTimers Day.
I have chosen facts from Carl’s book that are related to my past blog postings. I wrote a blog posting about Dale Long, the lefthanded power hitting first baseman for the Pirates in the 1950s. The reason for my blog about Dale Long was his grandson, also named Dale Long, was a student in one of my biostatistics classes at Quinnipiac University. Dale Long was also featured in my book, Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball, because of his record setting 8 consecutive games with a home run. Later, this record was tied by Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey Jr. However, what I did not know was that it was Carl who gave up the 8th home run in game number 8. In writing a blog about the Dodgers and Giants moving to Los Angeles in 1957 I failed to mention that it was Carl who pitched and won the opening day game in front of 78,000 fans in LA on April 18, 1958, the first game for the Dodgers as the LA Dodgers. The Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants 65 and Carl pitched 8 innings giving up 4 earned runs.
Still in another blog posting I wrote about, “The Shot Heard Around the World,” the Bobby Thomson 1951 playoff home run that gave the NY Giants the 1951 NL pennant. The Giants won playoff game 2. In the deciding 3rd playoff game with Bobby Thomson at the plate representing the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, Dodger manager Charlie Dressen called the bullpen coach where Ralph Branca and Carl Erskine were both warming up. The bullpen coach said they are both ready but Erskine is bouncing his curveball. Dressen chose to bring Branca in to face Thomson. On Branca’s second pitch Thomson delivered a threerun home run to win the game and the pennant for the Giants. Whenever Carl was asked what his best pitch was he said, “The curveball I bounced in the Polo Grounds bullpen.” In his book there is a picture of Carl with Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, and Bob Gibson. These four pitchers totaled 10 nohitters (Koufax 4, Feller 3, Carl 2, and Gibson 1). Carl writes, “The only distinction I can claim that the other three cannot I’m not in the Hall of Fame.” Carl’s 1956 nohitter was the first nationally televised nohitter. He also set the record for most strike outs 14 in a World Series game in 1953. This record was later broken by Koufax and then by Gibson at 17.

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July 19, 2015 06:55:54
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

On July, 17 1941, Joe DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak came to an end.
The title of this blog comes from the book Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports by Kostya Kennedy. His book takes the reader through each game of Joe DiMaggio’s 56game hit streak at a time when America was preparing for war with Japan. Joe’s streak began on May 15, 1941 when he blooped a single to right field in a game against the White Sox. The streak ended two months later at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, in front of 67,000 cheering fans. That day Joe had 4 plate appearances. Joe walked once and hit 3 ground balls. The first ground ball was a rocket hit down the 3rd base line which was backhanded by Cleveland’s Ken Keltner throwing Joe out by a step. Joe Walked in the 4th inning. In the 7th he ripped another rocket to Keltner who threw him out again. In his final plate appearance he hit a routine grounder to the shortstop. Joe’s greatness showed when he promptly started a new hitting streak which lasted for 16 games. All told Joe produced at least one hit in 72 of his 73 games. Both his 56game hitting streak and hitting safely in 72 out of 73 consecutive games have never been duplicated. Without Keltner’s great fielding, the consecutive game streak might have reached 73 games.
The year 1941 also marked the last time a Major League hitter batted over .400 when Ted Williams batted .406 for the season. The year 1941 witnessed two remarkable baseball feats that many baseball experts say will never happen again. The baseball writers had a tough choice for the 1941 AL MVP Award. They chose the Yankees’ DiMaggio over the Red Sox’s Williams.
In my book, Sandlot Stats Learning Statistics with Baseball, I devote Chapter 16 to the study of many different types of batting streaks. In that chapter I develop a new probability formula which uses a player’s actual batting statistics for a season to calculate his probability of duplicating any of these batting streaks. These calculated probabilities allows us to compare different batting streaks seeing which streak would be the hardest to duplicate.
The rivalry between DiMaggio and Williams also extended to batting streaks. Ted Williams possesses 2 amazing onbase streaks. He holds the record for getting onbase in 84 consecutive games (1949) and the record for getting onbase in 16 consecutive plate appearances (1957). To be credited with getting onbase a player must either get a hit, a walk or be hit by a pitch. Using my probability formula, I calculated the probability of Joe and Ted achieving their 3 streaks. DiMaggio had a 1 in 10,000 chance of achieving his 56game hitting streak while Williams had a 1 in 10 chance of achieving his 84game onbase streak and a 1 in 25 chance of achieving his 16plate appearance onbase streak. Which streak was the hardest to achieve? From a probability point of view the answer is clear. Yes, Joe DiMaggio’s streak was the hardest to achieve. In fact, Ted Williams said, “I believe there isn’t a record on the books that will be tougher to break than Joe DiMaggio’s 56game hitting streak.”
In Chapter 16 of my book I provide 4 lists of special baseball and softball players. The lists include the players with the longest hitting streaks in the Major Leagues, the Minor Leagues, the college baseball leagues and the college softball leagues. In the Major Leagues Pete Rose (1978) and Willie Keeler (1897) are tied for second place with 44game hitting streaks. For the Minor Leagues, Joe Wilhoit (1919) had a 69game hitting streak followed by would you believe Joe DiMaggio with a 61game hitting streak in 1933 for the San Francisco Seals in the PCL.
Considering the thousands of players in the history of professional baseball, for Joe to have 2 of the 3 longest hitting streaks speaks to the greatness of Joe D.



