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The name of the game is base ball, and for good reason. The object of this game is to rack up as many bases as possible. Once you reach four bases, you have scored a run. You can reach base by quite a few different ways: hitting the ball, getting hit by the ball, seeing four balls (or for the baseball illiterate, four bad pitches on the pitchers part, resulting in a walk.) People have kept track of these “stats” since baseball was created, and you are about to read a very opinionated statement: baseball stats are the most interesting. This may not be your opinion, but because of how many stats there are and how much more it tells you about the player than in other sports, I think that is the case. But hey, don’t take my word for it…in this article you’ll learn a little about stats in a brief summary. Than, you’ll hear my take on things as I tell you my ultimate stat which I created for this every so joyous occasion and will even let you in on the twenty top scorers from the 2007 season. Welcome to baseball season, people. J
Legend has it that baseball stats began from cricket stats. I am a little ignorant when talking about cricket, but in the 1800s Henry Chadwick created revolutionary stats that we use every day. These stats include batting average, runs, and runs allowed. Later, books about baseball stats such as Hy Turkin’s 1951 The Complete Encyclopedia of Baseball made the average baseball fan able to understand the seemingly complicated stats they hear about. In 1969, very shortly after the invention of the computer, this incredible machine was used for baseball stats. This enlightened the ordinary fan even more to the magical world of baseball stats.
Stats put the baseball fan in the same shoes as the coach, general manager, scout, pitcher, catcher, hitter, and owner when studying a players’ performance. Up until recently, batting average, RBIs, and homeruns were the big three studied. In fact, if a player leads the league in all three of these categories he is accepted into the ever exclusive “Triple Crown Award” winner club. But when Bill James hit the scene in the 1970s with the creation of Sabermetric stats, the baseball stat world was flipped upside down.
Many of these Sabermetric stats have become part of the stats the baseball fan sees every day, such as OPS and K/9 and WHIP. And although I think this new wave of Sabermetric stats is wonderful, plenty disagree. The traditional baseball fan tends to think that there is either no need for this kind of change, doesn’t like change flat out, or thinks that the stats are somehow flawed. Bill James defines his new type of stat as "the search for objective knowledge about baseball." He is not saying this is right, but only part of the search. The Sabermetric rival is batting average, because the Sabermetric follower goes by the theory that runs will win games, not hits.
As I have stated in previous articles, I fell in love with Sabermetrics after I read Moneyball in 6 th grade, a book about Billy Beane and his uses of the stat. Beane is the general manager of the A’s, and because they are a small market, low budget team, he tried and succeeded in getting the most value out of all the players that he could. Like James, Beane and his side kick DePodesta realized walks were as good as singles and extra base hits were more valuable than singles.
The name of the game is base ball. A double should be worth more than a single, a triple more than a double, and a homerun more than a triple. Total bases should be the main stat in baseball, because it is called baseball. Total bases add up to runs, not total hits. When you steal a base, it should add a base to your hits because you got one base further. When you get caught stealing, you should lose a base because technically you did.
Last night, I went to see the new movie 21, where the focus is how the aspiring Harvard Med student counts cards in Vegas so he can make some money to afford med school. The way one counts cards, if you are unfamiliar, is rather simple. In the game of blackjack, the objective is to get your card total to reach twenty one. A face card is 10 points, and an Ace either 11 or 1. When counting cards a high card (like a ten or a face card) is minus one point. A good one (below a six) is plus one point, and a neutral card (6-9) is +0. This works because once the higher cards are gone, you have a higher chance of getting a low card for when you “hit” (cards term for getting another card.)
I really liked the idea, and wanted to somehow apply it to baseball. So this morning, I tried it out. I decided a homerun is +4, a triple is +3, a double is +2, and a single is +1. A walk and hit by pitch is also +1, because you are getting one base. A stolen base is also +1. However, if you get caught stealing, a point is taken away. You also get a point taken away for each time you grounded into a double play.
|Name||Total Bases (w/ adjustment)|
What would your reaction be if we divided total bases by 4, so we’d know how many runs a person really deserved, not actually scored with help from his team? Percent accurate was just my way of saying how close their deserving runs were from there actual run total. I was about 92.5% close.
|Name||Real Runs Deserved||Accuracy|
I was most impressed that I had Albert Pujols right on the button, and my overall relevancy was 92.5%.
I thought it would be pretty interesting if you subtracted the hitting outs as well, like fly outs and ground outs and strike outs, etc.
I think this would be a better player evaluator than batting average, because batting average doesn't take into account extra base hits. I think it's better than slugging percentage because that doesn’t take into account stolen bases. I think this is better than homeruns and stolen bases, because that is only one element of the game. This is also better than RBI’s and runs because that has so much to do with the talent of the team around you as well. I think this is better than nearly every popular stat on the daily box score, but there is one small problem. It does take a little bit of time to figure out. And this is why batting average will always remain on top, as will home runs. It’s the counting stats that people like because of its simplicity. Does it tell you who the better player is? No. Not always.
And with that, your favorite and nerdiest baseball fan departs, with a warm heart and eager for your response. Hope you learned something new today class.
I’d like to thank the following:
-espn.com (for their stats)
- wikipedia.com (for their reminder on baseball stats)
- My brain (for being so damn wonderful and talented)
- Bill James (for being so damn wonderful and talented)
- The reader (for taking your precious time and reading this and not asking too many questions.)