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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 56-game 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 56-game 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 16---titled ‘Streaking’--- in my book.

A discussion of DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak always resurfaces whenever a player starts approaching DiMaggio’s record. The Cleveland Indians 20-year old catcher Francisco Mejia, ranked their number four prospect, playing for the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats entered August batting .344. On Aug.4, he extended his hitting to 45 games by doubling in the 9th inning after going 0-4. As of this writing his hitting streak stands at 47 games. This ranks his streak as the 7th 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 61-game streak in the Minors was longer than his 56-game 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? 

HItting Streaks - Minors
 

HItting Streaks - Majors
 


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner have finally faced reality. The 2016 Yankees are not an awful team but are simply a .500 team. After a 25-year run which began with the Core Four, the Yankees realize that the future is not now. Let us Yankee fans never forget the 25-year run which began with the Core Four and produced five World Series Championships. However, after being swept in a three-game series by the Rays, the Yankee owner and GM finally admitted they are now sellers. The list of Yankees traded before the August 1 non-waiver trading deadline included Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova. In return for these veterans they received ex-Yankee Adam Warren and 12 prospects, of which at least 6 have been evaluated by scouts as top prospects. GM Cashman has transformed the Yankee farm system from an eyesore to one of the best in baseball. Since Beltran and Chapman will become free agents and both have said they are open to resigning with the Yankees, it is possible both will be in pinstripes next year. IF they wanted to they could also bring back Ivan Nova for next year. If all that should happen Cashman would have received the 12 prospects and Adam Warren for Andrew Miller. What a heist?

The bad news for the Yankee fans is that, by giving away their best hitter Beltran along with two of the top five closers in baseball in Chapman and Miller, the Yankees have waved the white flag on the 2016 season.

On the other hand, there is much good news in what has just occurred. The 12 prospects included SS Gleyber Torres --- the top prospect of the Cubs --- and outfielder Billy Mckinney---the 24th pick in the 2013 draft ---, both received in the Chapman trade. The Miller and Beltran trade brought back outfielder Clint Frazier --- who according to Cashman has “legendary bat speed” --- and pitcher Dillon Tate, the fourth pick in the 2015 draft. Adding these prospects to the already existing Yankee prospects including Greg Bird --- who has already shown he is a big league 1B ----, Adam Judge --- a power hitting outfielder ---, Gary Sanchez --- a highly thought of catcher ---, Jorge Mateo --- their prior number one prospect ----, pitcher Luis Severino and others, the Yankees have assembled a prospect pool that not only can make the Yankees better in the future but also can be used to trade for other teams’ talent. There is still more to Cashman’s plan. Over the next two years the Yankees will be rid of many costly salaries. After the 2018 season, with Beltran’s $15 million, Teixeira’s $22.5 million, Sabathia’s $25 million, A-Rod’s $21 million and other bad contracts gone, the Yankees will have globs of money to throw at almost any great player they want. What about signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or Jose Fernandez, a free agent in 2019?  

Well, what about the 2017 and 2018 seasons? I believe the Yankees can remain a competitive team by combining their major league ready prospects with players like Ellsbury, Gardiner, Gregorious and Castro. They may also pick up a pitcher like Chris Sale or some other ace who becomes available. Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Luis Severino will still be there. Also, Dellin Betances should be more than just a capable closer. There will now be room for many of these young prospects to have a chance to show that they are really Major League players. It will be fun watching these young players develop and just maybe a new Core ???? will emerge.

Yes, Yankee fans, if Cashman’s plan is successful we can look forward to the beginning of a new Yankee dynasty starting in 2019. 


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Within the last two weeks ESPN and Tim Kurjian (top ESPN sportswriter) have both come out with their top 10 list of the all-time greatest baseball players. In the final chapter of my book “Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball,” I produced my own top 10 list of the greatest all-time hitters in baseball. The 3 lists appear below.

One major difference is my list excluded pitchers and judged players only on their ability to get on base, to hit with power and to produce runs for their team. The other 2 lists included pitchers and for hitters also looked at defense and running. My list also includes a point total for each player. Points were awarded to players based on the following accomplishments:

  1. Players were given points for ranking in the top ten for their careers for the statistics AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS (OBP + SLG), Runs Created [(#H+#BB)*TB / (#AB+#BB)] , HRA (#HR/#AB), #H, #HR.
  2. Bill James’s Black-Ink Test score was used. The Black-Ink Test awards 4 points for leading the league in home runs, runs-batted-in, and batting average. Three points are awarded for leading the league in runs scored, hits, and slugging percentage. Two points are awarded for leading the league in doubles, walks, and stolen bases. One point is awarded for leading the league in games, at-bats, and triples.
  3. Bill James’s Gray-Ink Test score was used. This test awards the same points as the Black-Ink Test except points are awarded if the player finished in the top 10 in each of the statistics.Players who finished in the top ten in either test got 5 points.
  4. Special consideration was given to a player who achieved either a Triple Crown Award or a Career Triple Crown Award, who batted .380 or above for a season, who had a consecutive hitting streak of at least 40 games, who finished his career with at least 3000 hits, hit at least 50 home runs in a season, or had at least 500 career home runs.
  5. Players were given credit for winning an MVP Award.

If you are interested in how each player got their points, please read Chapter 18 in my book.

So how do these three lists compare? To no one’s surprise the BABE is number one on all 3 lists. My list has Ted second while the other 2 lists put Willie second. I can understand this since if you combine hitting with fielding and running there is a good argument that Willie was better all-around than Ted. But if you just look at hitting there can be no argument that Ted is number two. The only active player on any of the 3 lists is Albert Pujois who is on my list. Mantle appears on the other 2 lists but ranked 13th on my list with a total of 5 points. I object to the exclusion of Lou Gehrig from the top 10 ESPN list. Another objection is the exclusion of Rogers Hornsby from the other two lists. From 1921 to 1925 Hornsby had a cumulative batting average over .400. Note that even though the other two lists included pitchers only one pitcher made it on each of their lists. 

Dr Stan's Top 10 Hitters

ESPN Top Ten Baseball Players
Please comment on what players you would add.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

My previous blog looked at the performances of the American League Teams at the midpoint of the 2016 season. I now turn to looking at the National League Teams. As I did with the Al Teams, I will compare the NL Teams actual winning percentages to their expected winning percentages based on all games played as of the end of July 2. To obtain their expected winning percentages I use my Sabermetrics Formula, called The Linear Formula for Baseball, which is based on their run differential (subtracting their runs allowed from their runs scored) on all games played so far. My Formula is:

Expected Winning Percentage = 0.00112*(Runs Scored – Runs Allowed) + 0.50.

For example, the Mets expected winning percentage based on their first 80 games is 0.515 = 0.00112*(294-280) + 0.50. Their actual winning percentage based on their first 80 games is 0.538. This shows a slight over performance by the Mets probably due to their great five starting pitchers and solid closer. 

Below is my recap of the comparison of Actual PCT to Predicted PCT and Actual Standings to Predicted Standings for all 15 National League Teams.

Midseason 2016 NL

What does the comparison between the Actual and Predicted PCT show for each team? Since a team’s predicted PCT is based solely on the difference between a team’s runs scored and runs allowed, we can see which teams underperformed and which teams over performed in the first half. Over performing is when a team’s Predicted PCT is less than their Actual PCT, that is, they won more games than their run differential indicated. Underperforming is when a team’s Predicted PCT is more than their Actual PCT, that is, they won less games than their run differential indicated. Philadelphia and San Francisco were the teams that most over performed and Chicago and St. Louis most underperformed.

Unlike the comparison between the actual and predicted standings for the American League, both Standings in the NL are identical except for a tie between Atlanta and Philadelphia. In fact, I expect Atlanta to pass Philadelphia for fourth place. The fact that the Predicted Standings confirm the Actual Standings in the NL influences my prediction as to the five National League Teams that will be in the 2016 playoffs.

In the NL East, Washington should win the Division. Because of their great heat-throwing young starters the Mets should hold off the Marlins for second place. In the NL Central, I believe St Louis will make a run at Chicago but fall short. In the NL West, I see the Giants falling off but if Kershaw is lost for a long period of time the Giants should comfortably win the West.

Washington, Chicago and San Francisco will be the Division Winners. My two NL Wild Cards will be New York and St. Louis.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

With the baseball season entering the midpoint of its long 162-game schedule, each team has played approximately half its scheduled games. This is the time when I compare their actual winning percentages to their expected winning percentages based on all games played as of the end of July 2. To obtain their expected winning percentages I use my Sabermetrics Formula, called The Linear Formula for Baseball, which is based on their run differential (subtracting their runs allowed from their runs scored) on all games played so far. My Formula is:

Expected Winning Percentage = 0.00112*(Runs Scored – Runs Allowed) + 0.50.

For example, the Yankees expected winning percentage based on their first 80 games is  0.463 = 0.00112*(329-362) + 0.50. Their actual winning percentage based on their first 80 games is 0.480. This show a slight over performance by the Yankees probably due to the big three BMC in the back of their bullpen.

Below is my recap of the comparison of Actual PCT to Predicted PCT and Actual Standings to Predicted Standings for all 15 American League Teams.

Midseason 2016

What does the comparison between the Actual and Predicted PCT show for each team? Since a team’s predicted PCT is based solely on the difference between a team’s runs scored and runs allowed, we can see which teams underperformed and which teams over performed in the first half. Over performing is when a team’s Predicted PCT is less than their Actual PCT, that is, they won more games than their run differential indicated. Underperforming is when a team’s Predicted PCT is more than their Actual PCT, that is, they won less games than their run differential indicated. Texas was the team that most over performed and Minnesota most underperformed.

In the AL East, Baltimore and Boston swapped places based on their predicted PCT. Toronto, New York and Tampa stayed fixed. Based on these results I predict we will have a three-team race in the AL East and my nod goes to Boston because of their hitting and the fact they have the money to buy a top-line starting pitcher.

In the AL Central, the new City of Champions Cleveland will easily win the Central Division. I see Kansas City dropping to third place and Detroit moving up to second place in the final standings.In AL West, we will have a close three-team fight for the Divisional Championship between Texas, Houston and Seattle. The Predicted PCT shows that Texas vastly over performed and Seattle underperformed which accounted for the change in their predicted standings. Seattle jumped into first place and Texas dropped to second place while Houston dropped to third place. I will go out on a limb and predict that in the end even though Seattle is currently 9.5 games behind Texas they will win the Division and Texas will finish second.

From what I said above the five teams that will contend for the AL Pennant are the three Divisional Champions Boston, Cleveland and Seattle along with my two Wild-Card teams  Baltimore and Texas.

Yes, the City of Champions Cleveland Indians will win the AL Pennant.

The next blog will analyze the National League.


 

 

 
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