Max Kellerman And The "Joey Bats Club": How Unique Is Jose Bautista?


Ok, Max Kellerman; you may be right about Jose Bautista.  His sudden power surge does seem to have PED written all over it, but I don’t want to accuse him of cheating… yet.  In order to assess the uniqueness of Jose’s surge, I tried to find other players who had power jumps similar to his.  Between 1960 and 2006, only 5 players met the criteria.  The following criteria are based on Jose’s career characteristics
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To be included in the Joey Bats Club, the player must have:

At least a 150 point increase in Isolated Power from one season to the next…

At least 300 plate appearances in each of those two seasons…

At least 2000 plate appearances before the power surge season…

Additionally, the power surge season can’t be a return to previous high level of performance.  (This criterion is more subjective than the others, but maybe the most important!) A player with a 2011 Lance Berkman-like improvement would not make the club.

The table below shows the “Joey Bats Club”.

Table Notables:


Bob Bailey, Brady Anderson, and John Lowenstein seem to be the most analogous to Jose Bautista, their power surges came with no obvious reasons for the change.

Bob Bailey’s Isolated Power more than doubled to .310 from 1969 to 1970.  I wasn’t around in 1970, so I wonder what baseball writers were saying about him that season.  I guess I will have to go to microfilms find out.

Davey Johnson went from 5 homeruns in 1972 to 43 homeruns in 1973.  That alone should raise suspicion.  Yes, he did go from Baltimore to hitter friendly Atlanta, but his OPS+, which is adjusted for park factors and is relative to the league, grew from 93 to 143.  One caveat:  his 143 OPS+ is not much greater his OPS+ of 125 in 1971.

Bobby Grich barely made the club; in 1979 his isolated power grew from .078 to .243, but 1978 was his worst power season.  So 1979 was partially a bounce-back season, but mostly a true power surge.

In 1982, John Lowenstein’s OPS+ was 176, which was 77 points above his career average to that point. He is similar to Bob Bailey, in that I wonder what the writers were saying about him during the 1982 season.

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Breakout Or Fakeout: Which MLB Teams’ Breakout Seasons Were Real? (Since 1980)

Will Andrew and the Pirates be smiling in 2012? 2013?
The Pirates’ success this season, and to a lesser extent, the Indians’ was the inspiration for this post.  Both of these teams have improved greatly this year, in comparison to the last three years.  However, are their improvements a prediction of further success or just a fluke?  The table below shows the top ten instances in which the breakout season foreshadowed sustained success (Breakouts), and the second table shows the top ten instances in which the breakout season was just a fluke (Fakeouts).  Only teams that have improved by 100 points or more in Win % were included.  Teams that meet that criterion are then measured by comparing their Win % over the three years after the breakout season to the three years before their breakout season.  Although the tables may not be comprehensive, they appear to be decent indicators of Breakout and Fakeout teams.  The columns on the table are Team, Year, Win %, and Improvement. 


  
Table Notables:


The Breakout teams seem to have a common characteristic:  they tend to be young talented teams in general, and their level of talent is evident at the time, not just in hindsight.

Atlanta ’91:  Young, great pitching, period.

Detroit ’04:  They had young pitching, but their improvement was equally a function of the absolute futility of the previous 3 years.

Toronto ’82:  I’m not old enough to speak intelligently about them, but they were a very young team and apparently talented.  Average age was 25!

’84 Mets:  This team is the epitome of a Breakout team.  Their starting pitching included Doc, Sid Fernandez, and Ron Darling; and was 23.5 years old on average.  They were probably the best team in baseball from 1984-1986.

Cleveland ’94:  Their pitching staff averaged 32 years old, but that didn’t matter; they just had to allow fewer than 10 runs to give the Indians a chance to win! A young Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome weren’t even the best players on the team.  Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, and Steady Eddie Murray were also a part of that devastating lineup.

Tampa Bay ’08 and Minnesota ’01 spent years building their farm systems and their talent finally matured.



















Table Notables:  These teams tended to be older and a great deal of their success was attributed to players overachieving and having career years. 

Arizona ’07:  They won 90 games, but they allowed more runs than they scored. 

St. Louis ’85:  The Cards didn’t necessarily fakeout; it seems that 1985 was just the peak year of a pretty good run, not preview of years of .600 baseball.

Seattle ’01:  Winning 116 games was definitely a fakeout, but like the ’85 Cards, it was the peak year of a pretty good run. 

San Francisco ’93:  This may be the typical fakeout team.  Although their hitting continued to be as productive as the ’93 level, their pitching staff was characterized by guys like John Burkett and Bill Swift, who where mediocre pitchers having career years.



Based on the tables and the characteristics present in most Breakout and Fakeout teams, I think the Pirates are a Fakeout.  Their hitting isn’t great, and aside from McCutchen and Tabata, their young, talented hitters are a probably a few years away from contributing at the big league level.  Additionally, their pitching staff seems to be made up of overachieving journeymen. 

Admittedly, I didn’t need the tables to figure this out, but the tables do provide insight into predicting true breakout teams.  Disclaimer for Pirates’ fans:  I am pulling for the Pirates to win the division; it would be great for baseball to see them and their beautiful stadium in the playoffs.  I’m tired of seeing the same teams make it every year.

The Pirates In First Place: Biggest Improvements This Season (So Far)

Pirate fans’ last memory of the post-season.

It’s great to see the Pirates in first place.  Although I’m not a Pirates fan, I would love to see them in the playoffs; Pittsburgh is a great baseball city with a rich tradition.  As of July 16, Pittsburgh has the biggest improvement this season.  An upcoming post will take this article a step further; it will look into the history of teams with similar improvements to see how often this type of improvement has led to a long-term change in the franchise’s fortunes.  The table below shows how much each team improved or worsened so far this season.  The table contains their record over the previous three years, their current record, and the difference.

All-Star Trivia: What Do These Player Pairs Have In Common?

Answer:  These pairs of players have:


1.  Played in two All-Star Games.


2.  Played in those games at least four years apart.


3.  The pairs have played in their first ASG together and their second one also. 
e.g., John Olerud and John Burkett played in their first ASG and their second together, 1993 and 2001.


Derek Jeter 3000 And The Most Unlikely 3000th Hits

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Congrats Derek Jeter – The Most Unlikely 3000th Hits.

Derek Jeter got hit number 3000 today on a homerun.  Wade Boggs is the only other guy to hit a homerun on hit 3000.  Of the 27 (28 if you count Cap Anson) who have achieved 3000 hits, one player had a triple (Paul Molitor), seven players have had a double, and 17 have had a single.  Of course, this information could have been gotten from any number of places on the internet, but the following table probably could only be seen here. 
Hit Number 2,998 or 2,997 or 2,996…..

The table below measures the “likelihood” of the type of hit the player got as his hit number 3000.  The hit probability column is easy to understand; it looks at the player’s 3000th and shows what percent of his hits has been that type.  Hank Aaron’s 3000th hit was a single, and singles were 61% of his career hits.  If only that column was used, the most likely hits would obviously be singles and the least likely, triples.  However, the Relative Probability column tries to measure the likelihood of the 3000th hit type compared to all the other players on the 3000 hit list.  A relative prob. of 100 means that the player has a likelihood of getting a particular type of hit that is equal to the 3000 hit club as a whole.  By this measure, Hank Aaron had the most unlikely 3000th hit (65.0), relative to the distribution of his hits.  Derek Jeter had a relative probability of 96.4, and Rod Carew, a singles hitter, had the most likely 3000th hit – a single.


Wait ‘Til Next Year: Which League Gives Last Place Teams the Most Hope

(Click Chart to Enlarge) This is the second part of a four-part series in which I will try to compare parity in NBA, NFL, and MLB.  The proxy for parity in this series will be “the ability of the cellar-dwellers to improve next year”. 

I won’t concentrate as much on the year-to-year improvement as I will on the 5-year average because the 5-year average is a more stable and shows a trend.  To create this chart I looked at the worst 5 teams in the league for each season from 1980 to 2009 and calculated the average improvement of those teams in the following season.  For example, in 1997 season the worst 5 teams improved by an average of 16 games from the previous season.

The graph shows that the teams’ abilities to improve increased steadily until it peaked in 1993.  It has since been on the decline until recently.  Since 2003 the improvement has jumped up and down, but stayed in the same range.  There are several possible reasons for the steady decrease in the bad teams’ ability to improve.  I think the main reason is that beginning around 1993, with the Barry Bonds and Greg Maddux contracts, the growth in players salaries seemed to increase exponentially more than the growth in team revenues.  When that happened, the large market teams began to have a distinct advantage in acquiring superstar players.  The future does look bright for the smaller-market teams; the worst year for improvement since 1981 was 2010.

Wait ‘Til Next Year: Which League Gives Last Place Teams the Most Hope for Improvement, the NBA, NFL, or MLB. (Part 1 of 4)

(Click Graph to Enlarge) This is the first part of a four-part series in which I will try to compare parity in NBA, NFL, and MLB.  The proxy for parity in this series will be “the ability of the cellar-dwellers to improve next year”. 
I won’t concentrate as much on the year-to-year improvement as I will on the 5-year average because the 5-year average is a more stable and shows a trend.  To create this chart I looked at the worst 5 teams in the league for each season from 1980-81 to 2009-10 and calculated the average improvement of those teams in the following season.  For example, in 1994-95 season the worst 5 teams improved by an average of 4 games from the previous season.

The graph shows that the teams’ abilities to improve increased steadily until it peaked during the 2006-07 season; since then it has been on the decline.  There are several possible reasons for the steady increase in the bad teams’ ability to improve, one reason could be improved draft scouting and increased draft depth. 


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Manny Ramirez Retires: Did He Use PEDs For His Entire Career? (Click Image To Enlarge)



A great way to detect an abnormal career progression; it uses OPS+ as a proxy to measure overall batting skill.  Relative OPS+ is measured by comparing 5-year periods of a player’s career.  For instance, when 32 is seen on the age axis it represents the player’s performance from age 28 through age 32, and age 33 represents ages 29 through 33 and so on.  The relative part is introduced when all of the player’s other 5-year periods are indexed to the player’s best 5-year period.  The best 5-year period equals 100 and the rest of the 5-year periods are measured accordingly.  The chart above  displays the career progression in which 80% of players fit.  A couple of things to remember when viewing the chart is that the area between the 10% lines is 80% of all players measured. Additionally, the player’s performance is compared to himself, so if Player A has an 85 rating at age  32 and Player B has an 89 rating at the same age, that does not necessarily mean that Player  B was a better player; it just means Player B closer to his peak than Player A.



Manny Ramirez’s positive PED test and subsequent abrupt retirement has caught everyone by surprise.  Now that he has been caught twice, it raises the question: did he use performance-enhancing drugs during his entire career?  You’d think he had to be stupid or arrogant to get caught again. However, I think he just felt he had nothing lose; he knew wouldn’t serve the 100 game suspension. 

He actually had a great deal to lose; his legacy and HOF candidacy will forever be tarnished.  Most fans know that Manny was a great natural hitter with or without steroids, but he may not have had as much power as he displayed throughout his career without PEDs.  For him to be bold enough to get caught again makes one think that he was using for his entire career. 
The graph above shows his career trajectory; it usually accurate when trying to detect a steroid user.  The primary disadvantage of this method is that it may overlook a guy who used PEDs for his entire career, as it only detects abnormal changes in career trajectory.  Consequently, if ManRam did use for his entire career, he slipped through the cracks of an effective detection system.  If he used at only certain points of his career, it probably didn’t help him too much.  One other possibility is that he starting using around 34 or 35; there was a slight, but significant, increase in the difference between him and the average player at ages 35-38.  Bottom Line:  He was probably using for most or all of his career.

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http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/02/barry-bonds-chart-speaks-for-itselfhis.html

http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/randy-velarde-performance-enhancers.html

http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/steve-finley-circumstantial-evidence.html

http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/benito-santiago-this-guy-was-on.html

http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/wait-til-next-year-which-league-gives_09.html

Who Were The Astros’ Most Important Hitters In 2010?

The adjacent table uses the difference in OPS between wins and losses in an attempt to find out who is the teams most important hitter.  For the 2010 Astros, Carlos Lee was the most important hitter.  That may seem like the obvious answer; even if you’ve never seen this table, but it doesn’t always work out that the clean-up hitter is the most important guy in the lineup.  I was also suprised that Michael Bourn’s performance had so little to do with the Astros’ success in 2010; one would think that with a guy with that kind of explosiveness would wreak havoc on the basepaths and lead to more runs scored.

A similar table for the 2010 Yankees was completed, it showed the Curtis Granderson and Brett Garnder were the most important hitters.  When the Yankees lost games last year, you can see that Granderson and Gardner had the biggest dropoff in production.  That result does not mean the Gardner and Granderson were better hitters than Cano and A-Rod, it simply means that there drop in production correlated more with losses than A-Rod and Cano.

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The Most Important Yankees Hitter In 2010.

The adjacent table is an attempt to find out who was the most important hitter on the Yankees in 2010.  It uses the difference in OPS+ in wins and losses as the measure to evaluate the hitters.  For more on OPS+ click HERE. 
I expected to see Gardner at the top of the list because he is usually the tablesetter for the top of the order, as he usually batted 9th or 1st.  Additionally, I expected him to be at the top because when he gets on base, he’s explosive.  Gardner’s difference of 92 finished second behind Granderson’s difference of 111.  No surprise that Cervelli,Thames, and Swisher are at the bottom.  These stats were found at baseball-reference.com
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