David Ferrer

100 = Average of Top 50 Players

Roger Federer

100 = Average of Top 50 Players

Rafael Nadal

100 = Average of Top 50 Players

Novak Djokovic

100 = Average of Top 50 Players
Serve/ Return Ratio is Serve Rating Divided By Return Rating (Is The Player A Better Server or Returner? 1.00 = Neutral)

1st Serve-2nd Serve Difference is 1st Serve Rating Divided By 2nd Serve Rating ( How Much Better is 1st Serve than 2nd Serve – Compared to Other Players? 1.00 = Neutral)

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
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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Performance Enhancer Detector

Are The Pirates For Real?

MLB All-Star Trivia

The Deepest NBA Drafts Since 1981

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

The NBA’s Deepest Draft Classes Since 1981

Upward Mobility For Last-Place Teams In Major League Baseball

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.

Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer: Can Anyone Else Play This Game?

I Don’t Know Enough About Tennis To Draw More Conclusions, But The Chart Speaks Volumes.  What Do You Think About Competitive Balance In Tennis?

I used pictures from craighickmanontennis.blogspot.com and al.com.