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Wheelhouse
08-22-2008, 12:10 AM
The difference is illustrated here by Pete Rose:

"Reds manager Dusty Baker loves Pete Rose and remembers when Rose once came up to him and asked, "How many hits you gonna get today, kid?"

Said Baker, "Two-for-four," and Rose said, "What? You're going to waste two at-bats?"

Baker laughed at the memory and said, "I guess that's why Pete has twice as many hits as me.""

There is a vast difference between a solid approach to the game and a solid analysis of its results. I think somewhere in here lies the difference between the stats guys and the empirical guys.

MWM
08-22-2008, 12:52 AM
A "solid approach" should lead to good results. Otherwise, what value does it have? If someone's approach to the game is so great, then they should produce good results, most of which are easily measurable. If a player stinks they stink regardless of their "approach." Pete Rose is a good example. He was a great player, and his results prove it.

And aren't "stat" guys the same thing as "empirical guys"?

Chip R
08-22-2008, 12:59 AM
"Reds manager Dusty Baker loves Pete Rose and remembers when Rose once came up to him and asked, "How many hits you gonna get today, kid?"

Said Baker, "Two-for-four," and Rose said, "What? You're going to waste two at-bats?"

Baker laughed at the memory and said, "I guess that's why Pete has twice as many hits as me.""

There is a vast difference between a solid approach to the game and a solid analysis of its results. I think somewhere in here lies the difference between the stats guys and the empirical guys.

Sounds like a couple of ballplayers discussing (the horror) stats. Last I checked, base hits were a stat and at bats were a stat. And when you divide base hits by at bats you get batting average which is yet another stat.

RedsManRick
08-22-2008, 01:06 AM
Juan Pierre's game is much more exciting to watch than Adam Dunn's (go with me here...). But Adam Dunn's game produces more runs and thus more wins. There's a similar dynamic for all activities and abilities. Perhaps a small ball inning requires a lot of work, leverages a lot of players and skills, and makes the players feel like their hardwork reading that pitcher's delivery has paid off. The inning where the pitcher walked two guys and the bopper drilled a 3 run homer just sort of happened.

There's an aesthetic value, you might say athletic value, to the game which does not exactly square with the actual won/loss value of those activities. Particularly among the athletes themselves, there's a disproportionate value placed on those actions which result from hard work, study, and effort than that which results from talent or less practiced / more ingrained skills (like power and plate discipline).

That's not to say that athletes somehow can't get "stat" approach, but merely that they come from a background which carries with it a set of biases that must be unlearned to a degree. Some are willing to do it. Some learn that while a single, a SB, a bunt, and a grounder to the right side feels more rewarding, a walk and a double off the wall is more valuable. Some learn differentiate between their well developed emotional connections to certain actions from the real mathematical value of it. But some simply shout louder that heart really does win games, that speed at the top of the lineup is more important than OBP, and that homers kill rallies.

I think the difference is partially borne of personality. Some players seem to have the approach that once they're done playing, they know what they need to know about the game. Any announcing gig is merely an opportunity to enlighten the masses of how things work. Others are more curious and realize that what they needed to know to play the game well is not the same as doing accurate analysis.

RFS62
08-22-2008, 07:11 AM
Sounds like a couple of ballplayers discussing (the horror) stats. Last I checked, base hits were a stat and at bats were a stat. And when you divide base hits by at bats you get batting average which is yet another stat.

Yep. How ironic that Pete Rose knew more about his own stats than any player who ever lived. And if the advanced metrics of today were in fashion when he played, he'd have known all about them too. He was more aware of his place in history than any player I've ever seen. And you measure that place, not just by hustle and heart, but also with numbers.

Really, the argument shouldn't be stats vs. tradition. It's about choosing the right stats with which to measure. Traditionalists are all over traditional stats.

And Rick, regarding your post.... Players don't get to decide if they like the idea of putting the ball on the ground to the right side to move a runner along or any other "small ball" tactic. If management is using that system or "offense" if you will, you do what management wants. If you don't, you'll be looking for a job elsewhere.

Time and time again I see posters blasting guys for doing what they're told to do, what is expected of them.

The criticism, if any, should be directed towards the management which encourages and REQUIRES them to approach the game this way. They're trained in situational hitting from the time they sign a contract, in varying degrees depending on the organization.

You don't get to decide if you like the California Offense better than the T Formation in football. You run the offense that your team employs, regardless of your preferences.

Same thing in baseball. Although there seems to be the massive disconnect between the fans who think a player should ignore the "small ball" approach DEMANDED by the manager and do something else.

Ltlabner
08-22-2008, 08:11 AM

Well, Dunn's gone, I guess it had to be done.

Yachtzee
08-22-2008, 08:27 AM
Yep. How ironic that Pete Rose knew more about his own stats than any player who ever lived. And if the advanced metrics of today were in fashion when he played, he'd have known all about them too. He was more aware of his place in history than any player I've ever seen. And you measure that place, not just by hustle and heart, but also with numbers.

Really, the argument shouldn't be stats vs. tradition. It's about choosing the right stats with which to measure. Traditionalists are all over traditional stats.

And Rick, regarding your post.... Players don't get to decide if they like the idea of putting the ball on the ground to the right side to move a runner along or any other "small ball" tactic. If management is using that system or "offense" if you will, you do what management wants. If you don't, you'll be looking for a job elsewhere.

Time and time again I see posters blasting guys for doing what they're told to do, what is expected of them.

The criticism, if any, should be directed towards the management which encourages and REQUIRES them to approach the game this way. They're trained in situational hitting from the time they sign a contract, in varying degrees depending on the organization.

You don't get to decide if you like the California Offense better than the T Formation in football. You run the offense that your team employs, regardless of your preferences.

Same thing in baseball. Although there seems to be the massive disconnect between the fans who think a player should ignore the "small ball" approach DEMANDED by the manager and do something else.

Very well said. When it comes to decisions of strategy and tactics, the blame/credit falls directly on those that make the decision, i.e. management who calls for such plays and the front office for acquiring players whose skillsets favor a certain strategic philosophy. I think if you gave no other instruction to a ballplayer other than the rules of the game, I'm willing to bet most of them would just try to get on base.

RFS62
08-22-2008, 08:43 AM
I think if you gave no other instruction to a ballplayer other than the rules of the game, I'm willing to bet most of them would just try to get on base.

That's an interesting thought, but it will never be manifested in the real world.

"Playing the game the right way" is an institutionalized system of coaching and teaching that has deep, deep roots. It's taught from day one all over the world.

Sure, there are mavericks who are trying to spread the gospel of OBP and not giving outs away, but it's far from mainstream at this point.

The only way it's going to become mainstream is when teams start winning with that method and it becomes recognized throughout the baseball universe as the reason why.

That's already happening to a degree, but it's going to a long, long while before you stop hearing George Grande yapping on about "get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in".

And frankly, I don't believe the day will EVER come where that offensive philosophy is retired.

Roy Tucker
08-22-2008, 08:43 AM
Juan Pierre's game is much more exciting to watch than Adam Dunn's (go with me here...). But Adam Dunn's game produces more runs and thus more wins. There's a similar dynamic for all activities and abilities. Perhaps a small ball inning requires a lot of work, leverages a lot of players and skills, and makes the players feel like their hardwork reading that pitcher's delivery has paid off. The inning where the pitcher walked two guys and the bopper drilled a 3 run homer just sort of happened.

There's an aesthetic value, you might say athletic value, to the game which does not exactly square with the actual won/loss value of those activities. Particularly among the athletes themselves, there's a disproportionate value placed on those actions which result from hard work, study, and effort than that which results from talent or less practiced / more ingrained skills (like power and plate discipline).

That's not to say that athletes somehow can't get "stat" approach, but merely that they come from a background which carries with it a set of biases that must be unlearned to a degree. Some are willing to do it. Some learn that while a single, a SB, a bunt, and a grounder to the right side feels more rewarding, a walk and a double off the wall is more valuable. Some learn differentiate between their well developed emotional connections to certain actions from the real mathematical value of it. But some simply shout louder that heart really does win games, that speed at the top of the lineup is more important than OBP, and that homers kill rallies.

I think the difference is partially borne of personality. Some players seem to have the approach that once they're done playing, they know what they need to know about the game. Any announcing gig is merely an opportunity to enlighten the masses of how things work. Others are more curious and realize that what they needed to know to play the game well is not the same as doing accurate analysis.

i.e. work smarter, not harder.

Ltlabner
08-22-2008, 08:48 AM
That's an interesting thought, but it will never be manifested in the real world.

That's already happening to a degree, but it's going to a long, long while before you stop hearing George Grande yapping on about "get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in".

And frankly, I don't believe the day will EVER come where that offensive philosophy is retired.

Not to mention the current coaches and managers will obviously feal the need to do something out there. It's only natural that they will want to impart their brillant guidance and wisdom to the next generation. Much (if not all) of that guidance is based on PTGTRW.

I mean, if they just sit back and let the players play what will happen?!?!!?

My direct supervisor is great. He's hands off, don't try to impose the same style of selling on his various guys and just lets us play to our strengths. He'll smack you around if needed, but basically he just lets us do our thing. Our group is the top producing group in the company and has been for a while.

The division manager, while a great guy, is VERY hands on. It's stifling. Hes got some good ideas but some real clunkers too. And he wants all the guys selling in the same way. Unfortunatley, each of the sales guys has their own strengths and weaknesses. So some of the guys are having their strengths minimized, and some of the guys are having their weaknesses magnified.

Almost like trying to make Brandon Phillips be a power hitter.

jojo
08-22-2008, 08:51 AM
I think stats and the eyes need to be melded-together they can really inform. Separately, each approach has value but each can also miss important information.

In other words, each "polar position" in the stats vs tradition argument could benefit greatly by moving more to the middle.

BTW, I agree, if you quizzed a group of kids who are passionate about playing baseball, i'll bet to a person they'll say they absolutely HATE making an out while batting but absolutely love making one in the field.

Chip R
08-22-2008, 09:16 AM
Sure, there are mavericks who are trying to spread the gospel of OBP and not giving outs away, but it's far from mainstream at this point.

Like Branch Rickey? :p:

BCubb2003
08-22-2008, 09:16 AM
Sabermetrics is the art of explaining statistical analysis to someone who thinks he's giving 110 percent.

Pete Rose knew more about baseball than any player who ever lived, and lost money betting on it.

RFS62
08-22-2008, 09:19 AM
Like Branch Rickey? :p:

How many even know who he was?

:p:

RFS62
08-22-2008, 09:21 AM
Sabermetrics is the art of explaining statistical analysis to someone who thinks he's giving 110 percent.

Pete Rose knew more about baseball than any player who ever lived, and lost money betting on it.

Outstanding, BCubb.

:beerme:

Ltlabner
08-22-2008, 09:30 AM
The "tradional" guys decry the use of stats in the game.

But will crucify a batter with a low batting average or pitcher with high ERA.

Never have figured that one out.

BRM
08-22-2008, 09:38 AM

Well, Dunn's gone, I guess it had to be done.

You're bitter.

bucksfan2
08-22-2008, 09:40 AM
Not to mention the current coaches and managers will obviously feal the need to do something out there. It's only natural that they will want to impart their brillant guidance and wisdom to the next generation. Much (if not all) of that guidance is based on PTGTRW.

I mean, if they just sit back and let the players play what will happen?!?!!?

My direct supervisor is great. He's hands off, don't try to impose the same style of selling on his various guys and just lets us play to our strengths. He'll smack you around if needed, but basically he just lets us do our thing. Our group is the top producing group in the company and has been for a while.

The division manager, while a great guy, is VERY hands on. It's stifling. Hes got some good ideas but some real clunkers too. And he wants all the guys selling in the same way. Unfortunatley, each of the sales guys has their own strengths and weaknesses. So some of the guys are having their strengths minimized, and some of the guys are having their weaknesses magnified.

Almost like trying to make Brandon Phillips be a power hitter.

I don't like comparing the working world to the baseball world much but I do like this comparison. A manager's job is to put his employees into the best place to succeed. Businesses consist of man different types of people with many different types of talents. If you have a numbers guy who is awful with people you not going to send him out to make sales calls. On the other hand you are not going to let a great salesman who can't balance his check book to do accounting work.

IMO it is key to stress the fundamentals as a player develops through your system. I would want a player like Votto and Bruce to be aware of every situation they are in. Yesterday Bruce was up in the 1st inning with <2 outs and a runner on 3rd. I would want to stress that at worst that runner needs to score, especially with Zambrano on the mound.

The ironic thing about baseball is you never know who is going to be up in a given situation. It would be nice to be able to pick and choose when your best hitter hits but you can't. Your just as likely to have Votto up in the key situation as your are Patterson. The manager's only has control over setting the lineup and 5 bench players at his disposal during the game. IMO a good manager can only do so much, the bulk of responsibility falls upon the player.

Roy Tucker
08-22-2008, 10:49 AM

How many even know who he was?

:p:

http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1129401/index.htm

westofyou
08-22-2008, 10:53 AM

http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1129401/index.htm

Yep, I have that one on my desktop.

Branch also introduced the stopwatch as a tool to measure the pitchers time to the plate and then use that to gauge the best time to steal.

Of course he did that about 95 years ago, and as we all know analyzing the game is some new mojo that only effects todays less than pure contest.

BCubb2003
08-22-2008, 10:57 AM
Yep, I have that one on my desktop.

Branch also introduced the stopwatch as a tool to measure the pitchers time to the plate and then use that to gauge the best time to steal.

Of course he did that about 95 years ago, and as we all know analyzing the game is some new mojo that only effects todays less than pure contest.

Not bad for a kid from a little backroads spot outside of Portsmouth.

Roy Tucker
08-22-2008, 11:06 AM
Yep, I have that one on my desktop.

Branch also introduced the stopwatch as a tool to measure the pitchers time to the plate and then use that to gauge the best time to steal.

Of course he did that about 95 years ago, and as we all know analyzing the game is some new mojo that only effects todays less than pure contest.

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/btf/pages/essays/rickey/goodby_to_old_idea.htm

Baseball people generally are allergic to new ideas. We are slow to change. For 51 years I have judged basebal by personal observation, by considered opinion and by accepted statistical methods. But recently I have come upon a device for measuring baseballl which has compelled me to put different values on some of my oldest and most cherished theories. It reveals some new and startling truths about the nature of the game. It is a means of gauging with a high degree of accuracy important factors which contribute to winning and losing baseball games. It is most disconcerting and at the same time the most constructive thing to come into baseball in my memory.

MartyFan
08-22-2008, 11:24 AM
I think this is nothing more than Dusty making mention of an "idol" of the BRM era...so he can connect better with the Reds fanbase.

That conversation obviously REALLY took place between him and Hank Aaron.

Highlifeman21
08-22-2008, 11:35 AM
Juan Pierre's game is much more exciting to watch than Adam Dunn's.

Heretic.

They burned witches for less back in the day in Salem.

westofyou
08-22-2008, 11:58 AM
Speaking of those analysts, here's a FC Lane article from 91 years ago.

In 1887 those potent intellects which govern baseball records decided to do something handsome for that orphan skill of the dope sheets, the base on balls. Swayed by the noble impulse of generosity they gave their benevolent feelings full sway and decided that henceforth a base on balls should be a hit, fully equal to a vicious triple or2 a fence crashing home run. There followed a frolicsome period for the batting kings, a period where the man who couldn’t bat three hundred was a chump, the four hundred hitter merely good, and the chief swatter of the bunch, Tip O’Neill, approached the fabulous mark of .500, a record which has never been equaled.

Alarmed by rocketing averages and finding that the dope was becoming fairly glutted the same potent intellects who had been responsible for this wild orgy of batting reversed their august decision and declared that a base on balls was of no account, generally worthless and henceforth even forever should not redound to the credit of the batter who was responsible for such free transportation to first base.

The magnates of that far distant date evidently had never heard of such a thing as a happy medium. The fact having gradually penetrated their well constructed skulls that a base on balls was worth something they immediately rushed in where angels feared to tread, and decreed that it should take rank with all the other hits, including the extra base wallop. Having discovered, in the course of time, that this act was rather rash they at once scrambled back to the zone of safety and refused to give the unfortunate base on balls any notice whatever. “Whole hog or none” was the noble slogan of the magnates of ’87. Having tried the “whole” they decreed the “none” and “none” it has been ever since.

The base on balls is indeed an outcast and a stranger in the records. The most the scorers do for the homeless wanderer is to ignore it utterly. The batter gets no credit for getting a base on balls either through his wits or through respect for his batting powers. But magnanimously, the fact that he is given a pass doesn’t react against him. He isn’t fined or anything like that. His voyage to first base merely doesn’t appear at all, isn’t called a time at bat, plays no part whatever either for or against his batting average.
“The easiest way” might be adopted as the motto in baseball. It was simpler to say a base on balls was valueless than to find out what its value was. The latter process involved some thought and work and usually those who have had the matter in charge have been unable to do the one an unwilling to do the other.

There may have been a time when wildness on the part of the pitcher was the main cause of a base on balls. But that date, if it ever existed, has gone forever. The requirements of the modern game demand almost perfect control. When Larry Cheney of the pennant winning Brooklyns was shunted from the Cubs he complained bitterly of this very policy. “It makes no difference how much stuff a pitcher has,” said Larry, “or how hard it is for the batters to hit him. If he gives a base on balls, yank him out of the box, and if he gives a number, fire him.”

“The strain of pitching nowadays is much greater than it was years ago,” said Dutch Leonard of the Champion Red Sox, “and it gets worse every year. I never saw the old timers pitch but I have looked into the records, and I know. Nowadays if a pitcher weakens to the extent of giving a base on balls the manager is right on his toes and if he pitches a few extra balls it is curtains for him. Pitchers don’t get knocked out of the box anymore. They don’t get a chance.”

In short, the whole progress of modern baseball has tended to eliminate wildness on the part of the pitcher. Wildness, to be sure, hasn’t entirely disappeared and never will. But it is a vanishing fraction, it grows less every year in the long run, and it has ceased to be the main factor in the base on balls.

In 1916, Grover Alexander, a pitcher who has good control, gave 50 base on balls. He took part in 48 games. How often is it good policy for a pitcher to pass a dangerous batter with men on bases? Alexander, redoubtable twirler that he is, would fear batsmen less than most but Alex is crafty and takes no unnecessary chances. No one knows how many times he passed a batter intentionally, but it wouldn’t be beyond reason to account for a large number of his fifty passes in this manner. Certainly if they could not thus be accounted for, the ability which certain batters possess of outguessing the pitcher or waiting him out, would well account for the balance. Alexander is human. Perhaps a few of his fifty passes were given through sheer wildness. But if so they were very, very, few.

Rudolph of Boston allowed 38 bases on balls in 41 contests. How many of them were due to wildness? No one knows, but certainly not many.
Turning to the batting lists we find that Tris Speaker received 82 bases on balls. If you want to know the reason look at his batting average. Ty Cobb received 78. Every one knows why. Eddie Collins got 86. Collins has a double toe hold on the base on balls column. He is known to be a good batter and he is also a past master in the art of waiting them out. A grand exponent of the wait ‘em out policy is Hooper, as every pitcher knows. Bert Shotton of the browns got 111 passes. Doesn’t he deserve any credit for this?

Some time ago John Evers, one of the brainiest stars who ever sat upon a players’ bench, had a heated discussion on the general subject of batting averages. “I pay no attention to batting averages,” said Evers, “and no other sensible person pays much attention to them. They tell little of a player’s ability. Take my own case, for instance. I will talk freely about that for I know what I am talking about. If I were talking about someone else perhaps I would be guessing. In my own case I will say that I am convinced that I could usually have hit thirty points higher than I did hit, if I had made a specialty of hitting. Some lumbering bone head who does make a specialty of hitting and nothing else may forge well across the .300 line and everybody says ‘what a great batter!’ The facts of the case are the bone head may have been playing rotten baseball when he got that average and someone else who didn’t look to be in his class, might be the better hitter of the two.

“Jimmy Sheckard didn’t use to hit so very high, according to averages. But if you remember he used to get to first an awful lot of the time. He did this because he made a habit of waiting them out. He didn’t try to hit except when he was in a hole and was forced to do so. His whole system of play was based on another policy. He believed that a good share of the time he would be doing his club a better service by trying to wear down the opposing pitcher and get him in the hole all the time than he would be doing by hitting the ball. Of course, there are plenty of times when he there is nothing like the solid single. But there are plenty of other times when the player at the plate should focus his attention on trying to fool the pitcher and shouldn’t even try to hit unless he is in the hole. In my own case I have frequently faced the pitcher when I had no desire whatever to hit. I wanted to get a base on balls.

That was what I was working for. If I didn’t get it my average suffered and if I did get it my average wasn’t benefited in the least. That is why I say the averages mean nothing . They don’t give a player credit for playing brainy ball. They put a premium on pure slugging.”

Evers indictment is a just one. The batting averages give scant justice to some of the brainiest players who ever lived. Eves himself was not a three hundred hitter in any true sense of he word. Occasionally, in his long career, he reached that mark. Once he soared away above it. But in the main he hit for many points less. Had he devoted his entire attention to hitting in so far as the manager would allow him to do so, there is not a question in the world that he would materially have bettered his mark. His own estimate of thirty points would seem a conservative one.

And yet, Evers, when he neglected to hit as a swell as he was able, was sacrificing his own personal record to the good of his club, was playing a far brainier brand of ball, in short, was batting in better form than he would have done had he constantly hit for .300. Is there not something wrong with a system which permits errors as grave as this?

Long associated with Evers was Edward Reulbach, a pitcher who the Trojan often claimed possessed a brain as shrewd and crafty as ever a pitcher owned. Reulbach, viewing the subject from another angle, the pitcher’s angle, said, “As a pitcher I would say that I would rather have a batter hit my offerings safely than to work me for a pass. I believe this would be the opinion of all other pitchers.” If a fast ball or curve is hit why it is only the fortunes of war. The pitcher grits his teeth and says, “I will bet they won’t hit the next one.” And he buckles down to work. But if after he has exhausted all his craft and skill, the pitcher is finally worked for a base on balls he experiences an entirely different feeling. He has been outguessed or he has temporarily lost control. If he has been “worked” his confidence to outguess the batter suffers a shock. If he has lost control he is strictly up against it. For control is everything to the pitcher. In any case he faces the next batter with much less confidence after he has passed a player than he would do had that man gained first base by a hit. The effect of a base on balls, in short, is more damaging to the pitcher’s nerve than is an ordinary hit.

Here are two players, one of the wisest pitchers who ever lived and one of the greatest all around stars who both agree as to the extreme desirability of the base on balls. Is there, then, no credit in the records for the man who is usually proficient at the act of getting passed?

We have seen how the base on balls was long ago recognized to the extent that a wholly exaggerated and fictitious value was given it. We have also seen that the value was later withdrawn and the pass thenceforth, utterly neglected. The cause of this neglect lay in the inherent difficulty in figuring the value of the pass. But is an attempt to discover this value foredoomed to failure?

If perfection is sought for the answer must be, “Yes, it is, impossible to determine the exact value of the base on balls.” But if the aim be merely an approximate value, (such things as form the ground work of all statistics) the answer is emphatically, “No, it is not impossible to approximate the value of the base on balls.”

In the two proceeding articles of this series the values of extra base hits were thoroughly discussed. Records of 1,000 hits made last summer indicated that a certain relationship exists between the hits which might be expressed by the following formula:

Suppose, for instance, that a home run should grade as 100%. Obviously, the greatest possible achievement the batter can attain, it should be so graded. On such a basis, then the triple would rank as 74.1%, the double as 50.6% and the single as 29.4%. In other words, the single would be worth 29.4% of a home run, or about three-tenths as valuable.

Now, while keeping tabs on 1,000 hits, records were also kept on bases on balls given during those games. They number 283. Let us assume for the moment that these bases on balls were all earned precisely as hits are earned, either through the ingenuity of the batter or the pitcher’s respect for his batting powers. We might, then, readily apply precisely the same course which found for us the value of hits. The base on balls has three values. First, its value for the player who receives it. The pass enables him to begin his journey around the hassocks and advances him one-fourth of the distance to the required haven, home plate. The pass has also a secondary value in the influence it exerts towards advancing base runners already on the bases. And it has a third value through the instrumentality of the fielder’s choice. The player who receives the pass may be forced by the next man at second base but the batter who forced him may reach first safely on the play. He is, then, clearly indebted to the original occupant of that sack for his start in business.

It was these factors which determined the comparative values of singles, doubles, and the other extra base hits, in our previous articles. The basis of computation in every case, was the run. In other words, the comparative value of the hit depended upon its comparative influence in scoring runs. It was discovered through the process outlined above that a single was worth a little less than half a run, that a double was worth more than three-quarters of a run, a triple rather more than a run, and a homer at least a run and a half.

Pursuing the same course, we find that the three inherent values of the base on balls size up as follows:
Of the 283 persons who received free transportation in our statistics, 142 or just about half advanced to second base; 92 or rather less than one-third reached third base safely, while 64 or slightly less than one-quarter finally scored.

We find, on examining the statistics, that twenty players reach first on fielder’s choices, at the expense of a previous occupant who had received a free pass. Of these twenty dead heads only two finally scored, a rather low average but one which might have been expected, owing to the fact that at least one man, and very often two, were out when such a dead head got to first. The number of runs actually driven by the base on balls was relatively larger than we had supposed, though not in itself very great. Six runs were, according to our statistics, forced across the rubber by a base on balls.
Adding our three values together, we find that 283 passes netted the side which made them a total of 72 runs. Dividing 72 by 283 we find that the base on balls was, on the average, worth 25.4% of a run.

Of the 283 bases on balls examined 142 or 50.2% reached second base,
92 or 32.1% reached third base, 64 or 22.6% scored, 6 runs were forced in by passes, 2 runs were scored by players who reached first on a fielder’s choice at the expense of a passed player; 283 bases on balls netted 72 runs.

Dividing 72 by 283 we find that the average value of a base on balls in terms
of runs is 25.4% of a run. Employing a similar method we dis- covered in previous articles in this series the comparative values of all hits from singles to home runs. Grouping these values in order, allowing to the home run as then most important of all, the standard value of 100%, we find the following general comparison:

Home run …………100.0%
Triple……………… 74.1%
Double…………….. 50.6%
Single……………… 29.4%
Base on balls………. 16.4%

We had previously discovered that a single was worth 45.7% of a run. Its greater value resulting from the vastly larger number of runs which were driven home by such a hit. Reverting to our former table and allowing to a home run the standard 100%, we find the following comparative values.

The one defect in the above method of determining the comparative value of the base on balls is the assumption that it is always earned. Such an assumption is admittedly erroneous. Three causes and three alone contribute to a pass. It is given voluntarily to the batter as a tribute to his known ability as a slugger. It is earned by the batter’s ability to outguess the pitcher or to wait him out. Or it is the result of plain wildness on the pitcher’s part. In two of those three cases the batter has earned the pass. In one he has merely been lucky in being favored by the pitcher’s wildness.

To just what extent each one of these three contributing causes account for the total number of bases on balls issued in the major leagues it is impossible to say. But it is safe to assume that by far the most important of the three is the ability of the batter to outguess the pitcher or wait him out. Neither voluntary passes nor wildness account for so many passes. Obviously, more than half the passes given in the course of the year are earned and should be credited to the batter.

Perhaps it would be the part of wisdom to err on the side of generosity. The pass has long been neglected altogether. If we can not determine its value exactly let us at least not set that value at a lower mark than it deserves. Would it not be just, in the long run, to suppose that passes which are issued through sheer wildness are likely to affect the average of all batters in the same general degree?

Look at the matter as you will, the present system of ignoring the base on balls puts a decided premium on sheer blind slugging and discourages brainy inside baseball of the Evers type. Such a player as Jimmy Sheckard was playing the highest type of ball at the expense of his own personal record. For the policy of wait them out is most destructive to a batting average.

The base on balls should logically rank with the hit, though obviously on a much lower plane. The old scorers were wrong to call it the equal of a hit just as the present scorers are wrong in calling a single the equal of a home run. But the base on balls is worth something, and is usually earned by all round4 batting ability of a relatively high order. In light of present researches would it be far amiss to claim for the base on balls an offensive value half as great as we should allow a single?

vaticanplum
08-22-2008, 12:11 PM
What a fantastic article, woy. Thanks for posting.

With all due respect to Bill James, he is far less of a revolutionary than his opponents give him credit for.

RedsManRick
08-22-2008, 01:08 PM
What a fantastic article, woy. Thanks for posting.

With all due respect to Bill James, he is far less of a revolutionary than his opponents give him credit for.

One could rightly argue that James' genius is not in his math, but in his prose. His most important contribution is his spreading the analytical approach to the masses, rather than as an analyst of particular ingenuity.

RFS62
08-22-2008, 06:04 PM
Outstanding article, WOY. I barely remember reading that when it came out.

GAC
08-22-2008, 08:51 PM
Juan Pierre's game is much more exciting to watch than Adam Dunn's (go with me here...). But Adam Dunn's game produces more runs and thus more wins.

Very profound statement Rick. It really stood out to me.

IMO, it epitomizes a lot of fans in Cincydom over the last several years. They cling to those exciting players like a Stynes and Freel because of what they see on the external - a player that is giving his all, hustling, busting his butt during a game. And it is exciting to watch. But not to the exclusion of the bottom line - their numbers.

I got a guy at work that regularly attends the Church of Ryan Freel for those very reasons. I keep telling him though that his "idol" keeps falling off the altar and breaking. ;)

I love hustle, grit, determination. Who doesn't? I grew up on Pete Rose. He will always be my all-time favorite ballplayer. But players like Rose and Freel are like two runners who entered the NY marathon. Both are going to be hustling. But one will come in first, and the other comes in last. ;)

And that is what always amazed me about Rose. He didn't possess natural ability like say an Eric Davis. Yet overall, who ended up being the better ballplayer?

Raisor
08-22-2008, 10:11 PM
Outstanding article, WOY. I barely remember reading that when it came out.

Wait, you can remember the Magna Carta, but this you "barely" remember?

RFS62
08-22-2008, 10:45 PM
Wait, you can remember the Magna Carta, but this you "barely" remember?

I remember the Magna Carta because I was involved in the writing. I only read that article.

:p: