Friday, April 04, 2008

Ask Sports Sturm – Web Episode #1

This Friday bit on the radio is something that I really enjoy doing where I try to answer questions or find people who can answer standard sports questions that people have about the games we watch and enjoy. We try to do it every Friday at 12:50 or so.

I want to begin to document my findings on this blog, so that before or after the segment, or down the road whenever the mood strikes, you can search for this article, and find the results in the archives here.

So, without over-explaining this, here is today’s main topic.

Dear Bob-

I am a baseball fan who enjoys the fine art of statistics, and what they tell us about a certain team or a certain player.

My question is this. Often times, like yesterday’s Newberg Report, a player’s performance is listed like this: Nelson Cruz’s 2004: .231/.286/.538 I know that the three categories are avg/obp/slug, but I do not know what the reference points are for the stats. For instance, I know a .300 hitter is thought of as excellent, but what is thought of as average, so that I could tell who is an above average hitter or a below average power hitter.

So, could you please elaborate on these numbers?


Double Dave

Cool. I like this one. Let’s start with the easy stuff.

Michael Young’s 2007 looked like this:

.315 batting average/.366 on base/.418 slugging

So what does this mean?

Well, you could research that Magglio Ordonez led the AL by hitting .363, and
David Ortiz led the AL in On Base Percentage with a .445 mark, and
Alex Rodriguez led the AL in Slugging percentage at .645.

So, the league leaders in 2007 hit:


Of course, that is an awfully harsh way to judge a player. Only one guy leads the league in a category, so let’s try to find the league average.

In 2007, the average mark in baseball looked like this:

AL: .271/.338/.423
NL: .266/.334/.423

From this, we can clearly see that our example, Mike Young, is a phenomenal average guy (.315), who gets on base 10% more than league average (.366), but a slightly below average power hitter (.418).

Meanwhile, you have heard people reference the atrocious 2007 of Gerald Laird. Here is what he had:


Well below average in every category. Well below. Of course, I could really give you tired head and break down the averages for each position (since catchers are far below the league averages in general), but I don’t want to get carried away in this study.

I was going to break down every Ranger who had over 500 ABs last year, until I realized the Michael Young was the ONLY player with 500 ABs. So, 400+

Ian Kinsler

Exceptional OBP and Power, especially at his position. This guy is worth getting excited about if his fielding catches up with his bat.

Marlon Byrd

Again, better than average across the board. David Murphy will get the nod for playing time in RF over Byrd once Milton Bradley takes over in Left, but I don’t know that Byrd isn’t the better bat in the short run. Murphy, though, has a brighter future, so I understand the decision.

And finally, Sammy Sosa

A fairly one dimensional power hitter. And an unemployed one.

And, for one bonus look, here is why I am not quite the buyer of Jason Botts (Sorry, Dan). Through 167 ABs, the 28 year old had this in 2007:


No average, average on base, and incredibly below average power for a guy who was suggested to be a power hitter (He is no Travis Hafner, folks). He may break out and surprise me, but I shall not buy his stock.

So, to review, the major league average in 2007 for batting average was .268-
The league average for on base percentage was .336-
And, the league average for slugging percentage was .423-
That would make the league average OPS (On base + Slugging) .759

2007: .268/.336/.423

What is that? You would like the league average for other years? Sure.

2006: .269/.337/.432
2005: .264/.330/.419
2004: .266/.335/.428
2003: .264/.333/.422
2002: .261/.331/.417
2001: .264/.332/.427
2000: .270/.345/.437
1999: .271/.345/.434
1998: .266/.335/.420
1997: .267/.337/.419
1996: .270/.340/.427
1995: .267/.338/.417
1994: .270/.339/.424
1993: .265/.332/.403

So, there are the last 15 years. You can look for conspiracy evidence for juiced balls and steroids. Nothing jumps out at me too much other than how low slugging was in 1993, and how high it was in 1999 and 2000. Otherwise, nothing screams out at you as being out of statistical normalcy.

But, shall we pick a few other historical years while my calculator is out?
1988: .254/.318/.378 (20 years ago)
1961: .258/.328/.399 (Maris 61)
1927: .284/.345/.393 (1927 Yankees)

This may have been interesting to you, or you may never want to see another stat, but the next time you see a guy’s stats, maybe now you will have a reference to the league to compare it to, and therefore will have a better handle on what type of player he is.


Jay said...

Does this guy know how to party, or what?

Flaco said...

Ovechkin + Crosby would be great, and I'm sure they'd schedule every game of that round on 7 consecutive Sundays so NBC could bring us all the action.

The Pens are on every dang Sunday anyway.

The Mavs win and the Stars win back to back nights? I may come down off the ledge for a break...that is until the lake-show shows us what's up with the what's up.

Itzadavey said...

I truly enjoyed the statistical breakdown. I have mainly only used 300 as a benchmark because I didn't know what the major league average was. I look forward to many more bob's blog editions of ask sports sturm.

Jake said...

I have a question for Sports Sturm: Are we going to have any guest blogging during the compound stay next week? I really like SeaBass's work, especially with 'talent' posts but I think a mix-up would be nice.

If you want to get your sabermetrics on, go buy some Bill James at B&N. You'll be beaten down quick if your not math saavy.

Bring on the Ducks.

Tony said...

Yesterdays 2 segments on the Wilhelm Scream, totally sucked me in. Very good stuff Bug.

BACM said...

Meanwhile, you have heard people reference the atrocious 2007 of Gerald Laird. Here is what he had:


Are those averages or Greggo's breathalyzer results?

Too Soon?