Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Cubs OPS differential of .141 would be 3rd best since 1914 if they finish with it

They have a team hitting OPS of .772 while their pitchers have allowed .631.

Here is the top 25. Compiled from the Baseball Reference Play Index and Retrosheet

NYY 1927 0.872 0.676 0.196
NYY 1939 0.825 0.667 0.158
ATL 1998 0.795 0.656 0.139
BAL 1969 0.756 0.620 0.136
NYY 1936 0.864 0.733 0.131
STL 1944 0.745 0.615 0.130
STL 1942 0.717 0.590 0.127
CLE 1948 0.792 0.665 0.127
NYY 1998 0.825 0.699 0.126
SEA 2001 0.805 0.679 0.126
PHA 1929 0.816 0.692 0.124
NYY 1937 0.825 0.704 0.121
CLE 1995 0.839 0.718 0.121
BRO 1953 0.840 0.722 0.118
CLE 1954 0.744 0.626 0.118
NYY 1932 0.830 0.714 0.116
NYY 1931 0.840 0.726 0.114
PHA 1928 0.799 0.685 0.114
ATL 1997 0.769 0.655 0.114
STL 1943 0.725 0.611 0.114
NYY 1921 0.838 0.725 0.113
BRO 1941 0.752 0.641 0.111
LAD 1974 0.743 0.633 0.110
PHA 1931 0.789 0.680 0.109
BOS 2003 0.851 0.742 0.109

Monday, August 8, 2016

When Carl Reynolds Hit A HR In Each Of The First Three Innings

It was in game 2 of a double header against the Yankees in New York on July 2, 1930. No one did it again until Manny Machado did it yesterday.

Before looking at Reynolds's game, I want to mention that George Kelly hit a HR in three consecutive innings (4th, 5th, 6th) in a game in 1923 and that Mike Cameron had three HRs in the first three innings of a game in 2002, with two in the first inning and one in the third (he hit 4 HRs in the game).

Click here to see the box score of the Kelly game from Baseball Reference

Click here to see the box score & play-by-play of the Cameron game

Click here to see the box score & play-by-play of the Reynolds game

Here is what The Baseball Page says about his feat
"On July 2, 1930, in the second game of a doubleheader against New York in Yankee Stadium, Reynolds smashed three homers. Hundreds of players have hit three homers in one game, but the amazing thing about Reynolds' trifecta was that they came in the first three innings. Reynolds hit homers in each of the first three innings, including two of the inside -the-park variety. According to newspaper accounts, Reynolds lined two balls over the head of Yankees' center fielder Earl Combs and circled the bases before the relay throws made it back to the plate. His other homer was a blast off Red Ruffing into the left field seats. Reynolds' White Sox defeated the Yanks 15-4."
I will put the link to that page at the end since the link was not working and I had to use the cached page. Another website says the non-inside the park HR was to RF. It is from the book '30: Major League Baseball's Year of the Batter by Ray Zardeito.

Two of the HRs were off of Hall of Famer Red Ruffing. Ruffing was a righty as was Reynolds, so he had no platoon advantage. Ruffing did not give up alot of HRs. In 1929, pitching for the Red Sox, he allowed 17 HRs in 244 IP. In 1930, it was 11 in 221 IP (with 1 in 24 IP with Boston) and in 1931 it was 11 in 237 IP. The other HR Reynolds hit was off of Ken Holloway, another righty. 

Reynolds was 5 for 6 in the game, adding two singles later and he had 8 RBIs.

Here is the cached page from The Baseball Page

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hitting And Scoring Down In July

Data from Baseball Reference

April 0.245 0.312 0.399 0.711 3.97
May 0.260 0.324 0.427 0.751 4.74
June 0.270 0.332 0.446 0.779 4.91
July 0.254 0.318 0.416 0.734 4.41

April 0.253 0.327 0.410 0.737 4.50
May 0.249 0.315 0.401 0.715 4.16
June 0.256 0.323 0.418 0.741 4.52
July 0.250 0.317 0.409 0.727 4.29

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rangers Still In First Place Despite Only A +2 Run Differential And A Negative OPS Differential

They have scored 483 runs while allowing 481. Their hitting OPS is .751 while they have allowed .768. They are 21-7 in 1-run games. All data from Baseball Reference.

They do better in High Leverage Situations. Here is what their hitters do in all three cases in OPS

High Lvrge 0.793
Medium Lvrge 0.764
Low Lvrge 0.726

Now what the pitchers allow

High Lvrge 0.751
Medium Lvrge 0.757
Low Lvrge 0.788

So you can tell their differential is much better in High cases. But it is not like the bullpen is doing great. They allow an OPS of .796 while the starters allow .752. The bullpen also allows a higher SLG, .453 vs. .421.

They allow a .727 OPS in close and late cases while their hitters have .731. So no big deal there. Neither the hitters nor the pitchers do much different with runners on versus none on. But somehow they ramp things up in High cases.

The Rangers have grounded into 72 DPs while their opponents have 114. That gives them a good edge and maybe some of those are in key situations. On stealing and reaching on errors, there is not much difference between the Rangers and their opponents.

The Rangers have turned 50 DPs in High leverage cases. That leads MLB while the next highest has 42. The Rangers have grounded into 37 DPs in these cases. So they have a net of 13 here. That probably helps, but only a little.

Rangers also take the extra base running 45% of the time while the average in the AL is 40%

Sam Dyson, who has the most saves on the Rangers, has a save% of 90.9%. That is good, but it is only 7th in the AL for guys with 20+ saves (Dyson has 20). He has a 2.53 ERA and has allowed a .657 OPS. Those are good numbers but not great.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Time to reconsider Honus Wagner's and Lou Gehrig's greatness? (Part 2)

This is an article at by Christina Kahrl. Here is the link

She points out that Gehrig did not have to face the good pitchers on the Yankees, and, of course, no black or Latin pitchers. But although those things are true, I wonder how much they would or should change our estimate of Gehrig. My guess is not much.

Yesterday I pointed out that Hank Aaron only faced black/latin pitchers about 13% of the time and that Gehrig not facing his own pitchers would lower his OPS+ by just 3 points, leaving him still 4th best all-time.

But, as you many of you may know, the Yankee pitchers were not quite as good as they look since they did not face the great Yankee hitters. So that decline for Gehrig is probably not that big.

I calculated Gehrig's OPS+ using the formula they have at Baseball Reference. Then I assumed that the Yankees staff is 1/8th of the league and took them out and got a slightly higher league average OBP & SLG and then recalculated Gehrig's OPS+ (I did all this without park effects). His OPS+ fell from 183 to 180. As far as I can tell, BR does not account for not facing your own pitchers.

Now to the question of not black/latin pitchers. This math may get gory. About 10 years ago I estimated that from 1947 to 2006 or so about 15% of innings were pitched by black/latin guys. I also determined that collectively those guys were about as good as the remaining white guys (white guys who did not get replaced).

So, I tried to figure out how many HRs this cost Ruth. I removed the bottom 15% of pitchers (by innings or batters face, not sure which). Then I calculated the HR rate for the remaining pitchers. It was, collectively, about 5% lower than for all pitchers. So I declared that if Ruth had faced black/latin pitchers 15% of the time, his HR rate would fall by 5%. I assumed that the HR rate for those black/latin guys who were now in baseball would have been the same as the best 85% of white guys.

I did something similar with Gehrig. I tried to estimate how much to decrease his OBP and SLG to recalculate his OPS+. The first thing I did was rank all AL pitchers over the years 1925-38 by runs per game (per 9 IP). Then I removed the bottom 15% (by batters faced).

The top 85% allowed 4.92 runs per game while the whole group allowed 5.20. So we have runs per game falling by about 5.6%. That means OBP & SLG would be lower. But by how much?

Using all MLB teams from 1925-38 (this was easiest using the Baseball Reference Play Index since there was no option just to get AL teams, you have to use all MLB teams), I ran a regression with team runs per game as a function of OBP & SLG. Here is the equation

R/G = 11.82*SLG + 18.37*OBP  - 6.12

Using that formula, to get runs per game to go down 5.6%, both OBP & SLG would have to go down about 2.545% each (assuming they each go down by the same %).

That is what Gehrig would face with the better pitching in the league from black/latin guys (remember, as a group they are about as good as the remaining white guys). Runs go down 5.6% so we have a corresponding drop in the league in OBP and SLG.

The formula for OPS+ at BR is 100*[OBP/lg OBP + SLG/lg SLG - 1]

Gehrig had a career OBP & SLG of .447 & .632. Lowering those by 2.545% each gets us .436 & .616. The league averages (taking out Yankee pitchers) were .353 & .411. That gets me a 173 OPS+. I started with 183 (recall I am not doing park effects here-also recall that maybe the Yankee pitchers were not that good since they never faced the great Yankee pitchers). So Gehrig falls 10 points in OPS+ (maybe less).

At BR's leader list

Gehrig would fall from 179 to 169, and be in a tie with Trout for 9th best ever (but probably a bit higher).

But, if these good black/latin pitchers are added to the league, the league OBP & SLG go down, then Gehrig's OPS+ is calculated with a lower league average and it would come back up. In fact, it would all cancel out. He goes down 2.545% and the league average goes down 2.545% .

But (yes, another one), there is one potentially big factor left out so far. If blacks/latins are added to the league, many of them, as we know, will be position players and that should raise the league average for things like OBP and SLG (think of it as a 2 stage process-first black/latin pitchers come in and league OBP & SLG go down a bit-then black/latin hitters are added to the league and that would bring the league OBP & SLG back up).

Maybe we end up an even higher league OBP & SLG than we started with (I think this likely since black/latin position players have been a bigger % of the total than in pitching) and that would lower Gehrig's OPS+. That means we need some estimate of how much league OBP & SLG would be affected if you added in all the good black/latin hitters, who would generally replace the worst white hitters (not entirely since some weak hitting guys who were good fielders would stay).

So I need to come up with that estimate to adjust Gehrig's numbers again.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Time to reconsider Honus Wagner's and Lou Gehrig's greatness?

This is an article at by Christina Kahrl. Here is the link

She points out that Gehrig did not have to face the good pitchers on the Yankees, and, of course, no black or Latin pitchers. But although those things are true, I wonder how much they would or should change our estimate of Gehrig. My guess is not much.

Take a look at the pitchers that Hank Aaron faced at Baseball Reference. Rank them by PAs. I did that recently and after a good chunk of them (the top 100 in PAs vs. Aaron) it looked like 13% of those PAs were against black/latin pitchers. That is the kind of thing that has to be taken into account in these discussions. If Ruth & Gehrig had to face about the same proportion of black/latin pitchers that guys today do (or post 1947), we need to put a number on it and then try to figure out how many HRs they lose from facing, on average, better pitchers. Remember, that Ruth & Gehrig would still hit some HRs against those guys.

But suppose that you did have them in about the same proportions that we have had them since 1947? I estimated about 10 years ago that would be about 15%. Then I estimated that it would have reduce Ruth's HRs by 5%. See

Sure, Gehrig did not have to face the good Yankee pitchers. But in the original Total Baseball, if I recall correctly, Pete Palmer said that in OPS+ (that is what we call it now-he called it adjusted production), they took into account that you did not have to face the pitchers on your own team. In the 2nd edition of TB, Gehrig ranks 3rd all-time in adjusted production with 182. Ruth had 209, Williams had 186. At Baseball Reference right now, Gehrig now ranks 4th in OPS+ (I don't think it takes into account not facing your own pitchers but I am not sure). OPS+ is Ruth 206, Williams 190, Bonds 182, Gehrig 179. So my guess is that taking into account not facing your own pitchers is not a big deal. Maybe Sean Forman can say something about this (I have asked BR about this).

From 1928-31, Gehrig had a 1.040 OPS against the A's. The A's had 2 good lefties, Grove and Walberg and the A's led the AL in ERA+ 3 times with a 2nd. They led once in FIP ERA and were 2nd 3 times.

Gehrig did have an OPS of 1.109 overall in those 4 years. So he did not do quite as well against the A's. But remember, this was the best or 2nd best staff over those 4 years and he did not drop off by much and it was in about 380 PAs.

I also estimate that, if we take the Yankees pitchers out of the league averages for OBP & SLG, and then recalculate the league OBP & SLG, so that we can recalculate Gehrig's OPS+, I get it going down 3 points. If it falls from 179 to 176, he is still in 4th place. See

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bryce Harper Is Having An Historically Large Dropoff This Year But It Might Not Be A Long Term Concern

Last year, at age 22, Bryce Harper had an OPS+ of 195. The only player to ever have a higher OPS+ at age 22 or younger with 400+ PAs was Ted Williams who had 235 in 1941, the year he batted .406.

But so far this year, Harper's OPS+ is just 134, a drop of 61. To see how this ranks historically, I used the Baseball Reference Play Index to call up all the seasons since 1900 when a player 23 or younger had an OPS+ of at least 170 (I first tried a cutoff of 180 and using players 22 or younger, but that was a short list). Again, a minimum of 400 PAs was used.

Then I found their OPS+ the next year and ranked them by how much their OPS+ changed, with the biggest losers listed first. That is all in the table below. Harper does not have the biggest decline ever, but he is close.

Next Yr.
Boog Powell
Reggie Jackson
Bryce Harper
Arky Vaughan
Mel Ott
Eddie Mathews
Eddie Collins
Ted Williams
Albert Pujols
Jimmie Foxx
Mike Trout
Ty Cobb
Mike Trout
Frank Thomas
Stan Musial
Eddie Mathews
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Ted Williams*
Willie Mays
Ken Griffey
Eddie Mathews
Stan Musial*
Ty Cobb
Mickey Mantle

*The next year for Williams and Musial in these cases was actually after they returned from military duty. Williams had three years in between and Musial had one.

There are 18 players on this list. 13 are in the Hall of Fame. Those not in the Hall are Albert Pujols, Harper, Mike Trout, Boog Powell and Joe Jackson. Trout and Pujols both have good chances to make it. Jackson might be in if not for the 1919 World Series scandal.

Boog Powell is probably not Hall worthy but he still hit over 300 career HRs and won an MVP award later in his career. He had a couple of seasons with an OPS+ in the 160s and two more in the 150s. He had a total of six seasons in the top 10 in OPS+, including the 176 at age 22. So a good career.

Powell, along with Reggie Jackson, are the only two guys here to see a drop off of 60 or more in OPS+. Jackson is in the Hall and, as seen above, Powell had a pretty good career. So even with the big decline so far this year, Harper's future still looks pretty good.