Combining golf statistics to identify notable players

As individual sports go, golf is just about the best. You against the earth, the elements, conforming to the expansiveness of trees, the bend of the water, the power of the wind and the sun (or absence of it).    I follow the sport on mainly a statistical basis and do watch the majors. My favorite are the UK courses, because of the reliability in its unreliability, all the surprise pot bunkers, secret contours, the mysterious lay of the green, and the unpredictableness of wind conditions.
I really like how one player, ever so gently, attempts to conquer a course and ‘own’ a title, defeating his or her competitors and the elements at large. The greater the opposing force, the greater the victory.
Getting mundane with stats, I picked out the ones I value more than the others. They contribute in their own way to a golfer’s ability to compete, if not win as much as the consistent major winners.

Here are the particular stats I’m interested in, using the PGA definitions:
Scrambling: The very art of getting out of trouble and scoring. Obviously hard to do on par 3s, and there are certainly ample opportunities on par 5s. Overcoming the difficulty of the course is the name of the game.
Ball Striking: The combo of Total Driving (Driving Distance & Driving Accuracy) & Greens in Regulation). Measured as skill off the tee and scoring around par per hole.
I like combining these pair of stats to determine the true competitiveness of the common golfer. In doing so we have divisive emphasis on the tee/setup shots, a little on putting accuracy, and the most emphasis on GIR success.
Entering this week’s men’s tournament (Honda Classic), here are the 4 golfers with the highest combined rank in both stats:

Brandt Snedeker   (24th in ball striking, 2nd scrambling)..Ranks in the top 10 in these categories: Driving Accuracy %, GIR %, Birdie Avg, Scoring Avg, All-Around, $ Leaders, Par Breakers, Par 3 & 4 birdie or better leaders, birdie or better conversion %, scoring average before cut, round 3 scoring average, 3rd in total birdies, consecutive cuts, scrambling, bounce back.  Also: putting from 20 to 25 feet,scrambling from rough, GIR % above 100 yards. He qualified for The Masters by being one of last year’s British Open’s top 4.
Summary: best scrambler on tour ,great scoring, 4 of 5 rounds in the top 10, 1 win (AT&T Pebble Beach). After 5 tournaments is the current FedEx Cup Points leader. 1 win, 4 top 10s.

Brian Stuard (37th, 3rd): 30th on the FedEx list, 2 top 10s.  5th in this year’s Sony Open in Hawaii.  Top 10 in these categories: Strokes gained in putting, scoring average, all-around, total eagles, top 10s, scrambling, total putting. Also: Approaches from over 200 yards, GIR % 125-150, approaches 250-275, putting from 10 to 1 feet, along with 5-15. Further: avg distance after going for it, lowest round.
Summary: Dangerous on par 5s, big eagle threat, deadly putter within 15 feet.

Brian Gay (32nd, 11th) 5th in FedEx points. Top 10s in: Birdie average, scoring avg, $ leaders, par breakers, par 4 birdie or better leaders, scoring avg before cut, final rd scoring average, par 4 performance, total putting.    Approaches from 150 to 175 yards, putting 5-15 ft. 3-putt avoidance, front 9 scoring avg. 
Summary: solid putter, lethal on par 4rs.
Qualified for The Masters by winning a PGA tournament since the previous Masters. Also missed cut at the Northern Trust Open.

William McGirt (43rd, 8th) 80th in FedEx points,  1 top 25 appearance, 1 cut missed. 1 career 2nd place. Top 10s: Approaches 175-200, putting 5-10 and over 25′, proximity to hole.  He missed the cut in last year’s PGA Championship, his first major appearance.  Missed cut in his last tourney, the Northern Trust Open.

Brian Stuard and Brian Gay are both entered in the next scheduled event, the Honda Classic, held at the PGA National Resort & Spa, on the Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Per,    Gay has played this tournament 12 times, made the cut 9 times, averaged a 49th place check, 2 top 10 finishes.  Brian Stuard was cut in his lone appearance.

I’ll update my top 4 golfers to watch each week based on these 2 sets of numbers. 

Introducing Pitcher Fear Factor into sabermetrics and similarities

The idea came while doing research and working between numerous open tabs on my desktop, mainly and   I gave thought to the idea of runs created from the pitcher’s point of view.  Bill James was concerned with what the batter does at the plate against a pitcher and not what happens on the bases.  Along these lines, from the previous series of essays, I focus on the batter-pitcher matchup as the beginning point to everything that goes on in the game. Of course.

Having exhausted my work with batters, I ideally wanted to present the inverse properties of the variables involved. Does a pitcher appear stronger for giving up fewer hits and less homers? Is this pitcher more valuable to his team when comparing runs allowed to the potential runs created from that initial contact?  And, can I build a profile suggesting how a pitcher’s tendencies make him a true power or finesse pitcher, or otherwise exhude a Zen-like balanced quality?
My goal here is to find that Zen pitcher who can neutralize a batter, while
simultaneously keeping himself from his own tendency to be either a
gopher-ball or gopher-prone type.  We often refer to pitchers as either
power or finesse types, pointing to one’s K/9 ratio as a key stat.  I aim to
improve on the idea.
Further, more attention is given lately to a pitcher’s GB/FB ratio, which
changes very little over a career and may be a further indicator of success.
Elias Sports Bureau’s axiom bears out that when a fly-ball pitcher meets a
fly-ball hitter, and likewise for ground-ball types, the matchup tends to
favor the pitcher. When the styles are different, it favors the hitter. It’s
a truly modern improvement on the classic lefty-righty platoon adjustments.
But how often are these adjustments made based on the type of contact? And,
can we find the pitchers that take the matter of contact out of the equation
as much as possible, and keep the war at home plate?
From here, once we examine ground-ball and fly-ball types via the GB/FB
ratio, we can potentially determine initial outcomes for a ball game,
especially the first time through the order. We can see which pitchers might
have the most trouble or success against a hitter, and actually improve on
the common batter vs. pitcher history. It is this history that I’m using as
a testing ground to see if the Elias theory continues to hold water
What follows are the results of this research. I took the top 7 pitchers of
each MLB team as ranked by IP, including at least one reliever (either short
or long). I then set to work on the formula:

PFF (Pitcher Fear Factor, patent pending) = BFP -{ (PA – BB – K – HBP) /
PA } x (SLG/BA) (SLG, BA allowed, that is)
The first multiple takes into account every PA, and subtracting every result
that resulted in no contact by the batter to settle the issue. This can be
referred to as Opposition Contact Average.
The second multiple is the Opposition Bases per Hit, a simple division
equation here, expressed as a whole number, to 3 decimal places.
Multiplying these 2 formulas to make the product PFF, as with FF for
batters, we come to a number, expressed as a whole number, and to 5 decimal
places that is the adjusted amount of opposing bases per hit. It is the
number of bases per hit that a pitcher allows per plate appearance if all
the batters made contact against him.  It favors the pitcher who keeps the
result to home plate and off the bases (more walks and strikeouts, and less
balls in play).   Again, like with FF, for a visually appealing look, I
translate the PFF by multiplying it with a base number of 300. The lower the
PFF, the better. The higher the PFF, the more it expresses a weak pitcher
who is likely to keep the ball in play and be a big threat to surrender
extra base hits.

Here’s your top 5 in PFF, inclusive of relievers:
Aroldis Chapman, Randy Choate, Fernando Rodney, David Hernandez, Brandon League.
Top SPs in PFF include: Gio Gonzalez, David Price, Jason Hammel, Edinson Volque, Yu Darvish, Stephen Strasburg.

Here’s the full spreadsheet

I’ve included a list of PFF by teams. Not terribly surprising to see Tampa Ray Rays lead in this category.

From here, we’re getting mighty experimental. So far we’ve seen the strength of a batter and his ‘natural’ tendency to hit for power or average or some combo of this. Within this we’ve seen 6 examples depeinding on how the stats bear out.  What I’m doing with the pitcher side of things is to present a duplicate example; what the pitcher induces that makes him tough to make contact or hit for power against. That is, if that is possible! After all, the pitcher starts the action. We already know about gopher-ball and gopher-proof and groundball-flyball types. What more can we read into except to take away the possible benefics of the hitter?  At the same time I want to know if that pitcher is naturally attuned to giving up homers or singles or some Zen-like quality that has him rather balanced.    Recalling the Elias axiom again: similar styles between batter and pitcher always favor the pitcher. If the styles are rather different, the batter has the advantage. That chicken-and-egg thing, you know.   Further, recalling “The Tao Of Baseball”: “When confronted with Yang, employ Yin; When facing Yin, employ Yang” The book goes into describing how to defeat both types as well as defeated the same side of the coin.  I won’t plagarize so I encourage you to purchase the book through Fireside or your online dealer of choice.   Having studied the batter side much more than the pitcher, I can grok Bill James’ reasoning about use the offensive value %. Do pitchers reflect a shadow to that batter, taking away some of that value, neutralizing the effect? Or does he make it easier for the batter?  Admittedly I don’t have the answer.  I’ll roll with an extreme example.

Aroldis Chapman in the PFF ratings is #1 on my list. Looking at his batter/pitcher matchups from 2012, I wanted to find which batters gave him any real trouble.

Here’s what stood out: Jordan Pacheco was the only batter to get 2 hits off him! 2 of 3 in 3 PA.    As for Chapman’s easier pickin’s, Matt Downs went 0-for-6 and 5 Ks, Ryan Braun 0-for-4 and 3 Ks.   .
Recall that Chapman allows batters to make contact just 46% of the time, taking away all the BBs, Ks and HBPs. The 1.60 bases per hit is very close to the league average of he’ll allow his share of extra base hits, rather normal. But don’t count on them.   We’re talking about a thorougly Yin pitcher.  Now let’s see what kind of batters we’re talking about

Downs: contact: .738  bases per hit: 1.836. FF x 300: 406.408, ranking 24th in the league. % of Offensive Value is a sharp 52% also in the top 25 in that category. So this is a very balanced hitter and very dangerous. Somehow he meets his match when facing Chapman.  Strength vs strength. Tie in this case goes to the pitcher.
Braun: contact. 701, bases per hit: 1.865. Both numbers above league average. FF x 300 is 392.208, also above average. Not elite but definitely better than most. % of Offensive Value: .429. Big-time power hitter. He’ll beat you with the long ball given the chance.   But….not against the power pitching of Chapman,….and here again, the similar matchup favoring the pitcher.

Jordan Pacheco contact average: .829.  Bases per hit: 1.362. Mixed bag here. FF x300: 338.727. Right around the league average of 340. Not going to scare many pitchers but is not a pushover. So…power or average? Offensive Value for Pacheco is .689! Definitely a different type of hitter, solid singles type.  And this speaks to the similarity theory.

One more example, using another strong pitcher in Randy Choate. Opposing contact average: .636. Bases per hit: 1.27. If he was a hitter this would be a real weak fish. That’s how strong Randy is.

He faced his worst opposition in these batters:
Gregor Blanco (3-for-5, 3 doubles): contact: .653. BpH: 1.409. FFx300: 276. OV%: 45%. Very weak hitter, all numbers below league average, with a mild power focus.   How does this explain his success against Choate? Frankly it doesn’t as both sides are similar and should favor Choate in this case.  We’ll leave this one aside.
Michael Bourn: (3-for-3, 3 singles): contact: .675. BpH: 1.427 ,for an FFx300 of 288 and change. OV% is .498, one of the better balanced hitters in the game.  So…Blanco and Bourn are similar to themselves! And both find something in Choate’s pitching that looks real good.  Going with this angle, our next 2 batters should be something of the opposite. Let’s look:

Choate fared best against:
Jon Jay (0-for-6): contact  .760. BpH 1.31. FFx300: 298 .  Off Vl% is  .604.  Contact average is higher and a bit above the league average. FF number well below league average, so he’s not going to be much of a challenge to a pitcher. The Off Vl% is higher tho. He’s strongly geared to singles and sacrifices and walks, which is certainly different than Blanco and Bourn.
Brandon Crawford (0-for-3, 2 BBs)  contact: .724. BpH: 1.40.  FFx300: 305.  Off VL: .570.  Truly a singles hitter, also not a real pitcher’s threat.
So far with this example, this much holds water: Off VL per batter definitely points the way toward a batter’s success against a pitcher of a certain type.  Jay and Crawford are inclined to hit for average or play smaller ball. This approach does not work against Choate at all.  Bourn and Blanco are kryptonite tho for taking a centered/power approach.  Mind you: All 4 batters are relatively weak compared to other batters. It comes down to the Off VL % for certain to figure out Choate.

This may prove to be a good tool for changing a lineup, bringing in power hitters to replace the singles types.

Yes there are more columns in the PFF table. We’ve covered enough here. In a future post I’ll fill in those columns and attempt to make sense of it all.

Turn your cars around: Bouncing back at Daytona

It’s just shocking  what happened at Daytona Beach. No doubt you’ve heard by new what took place in the final corner just prior to the start-finish line. 
One would expect NASCAR to have enough safety measures to protect drivers and fans. It seems now that more must be done.  Someone interviewed winner Tony Stewart about the matter of putting on a show vs. safety. He took the company line but was gracious in his statement, and, tastefully, did not choose to actively celebrate the win.  His statement included in this story by ESPN’s Ed Hinton.
The most  serious injuries occur when cars get airborne near a fence. Look no further than to the late Dan Wheldon.  Kyle Larson’s #28 for Clorox was basically half a car after. And he walked away.
What more can NASCAR do? Move the seats back? Move them higher? Construct a 2nd layer of fencing all around? That’s what I envision; it only seems fair to do.    What I dislike is NASCAR’s stance on all this.  They are progressing to get the 500 ready on Sunday on time, and they are not making major changes outside of repairing the fence. 
To a driver and crew, there’s not many more difficult circumstances to drive in than when a serious crash has occured in the prior race and that driver has to use an alternate car, on that same track.   
I’m curious to know if drivers in both NASCAR series are able to bounce back in the Great American Race after not finishing in the second-tier race the day before.

114 bounceback occurrences toward Daytona since the first Nationwide races in 1982. 33 times a driver would lead a lap. 16 times in the top 5 include 4 wins (Michael Waltrip with 2 in this scenario, who has 8 such bouncebacks, most of any driver).  Bill Elliott led 104 laps in one such race to win.33 cars failed to finish, while 50 remained on the lead lap, leaving 31 completing the race in running condition while off the lead up. 5 of the bounceback contenders survived The Big One in the 500 while 6 others did not.

Granted the stats are all over the place; granted, further, that enough teams stock enough cars while running in both series if they choose to do so.  

Coming now to 2013, 17 drivers failed to finish the race in the Nationwide event. Of these, 3 drivers are eligible for this bounceback sample: Danica (pole) and both Busch brothers (Kyle 4th, Kurt 11th). Danica faded after lap 31 with engine problems. Kyle had engine problems himself on lap 54, and Kurt crashed out on lap 65.   
This will be Kyle’s 3rd chance to bounce back. Here’s his prior results: In 2007, he started 8th and finished 24, running the full 200. Then in the other bounce back which was 2012, he started 14th, finished 17th, ran the full 202 laps, and survived a Big One (and was caughtup in a second one in the day before in the Nationwide race). 
Kurt and Danica have never had to bounce back from a Nationwide race in the 500. Danica becomes the 8th polesitter to bounce back. Prior results from others in this position: Avg finishing position: 22nd. Average laps led of those who led: 50. 3 failed to lead a lap on the pole. Average laps run: 149.  

Other stats for you:
Jeff Gordon with a 15% win percentage overall, best of active drivers. 
Kurt Busch 41% of races here in the top 5. 
Dale Jr. in the top 10 53% of the time. 
David Reutimann starts 42nd. Still hasn’t led a lap here after 2038 laps. Marcos Ambrose, 24th, is stuck on 1144 laps. Meanwhile, Danica hasn’t led after 138 lifetime laps. I predict she will lead on the first lap today to break that streak. 

These drivers tend to improve on their start position at Daytona: Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Jeff Burton, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, David Ragan, Joey Logano, Stenhouse Jr. Reed Sorenson, David Reutimann, David Gilliland, Scott Speed, 

Reed Sorenson has kept his car running at the finish in all 9 of his starts here.  Kurt Busch among those who have raced more than 10 times is 23 of 24 running at the finish. 

Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer are on the lead lap of a race’s conclusion here 78% of the time. Paul Menard at 81%.  

Now for my top 10 prediction, factoring today’s starting grid and adjusting based on the prior avg. start/finish, using drivers who have at least 3 races here (sorry, Danica):
1 Kahne 
2 Harvick
3 Bowyer
4 Gordon 
5 Biffle
6 Kyle 
7 Kurt
8 Kenseth
10 Menard

Kahne for 9 races has had alternating good and experiences here, including his best performance lifetime in his last race here. He comes off his best avg starts and finishes in 2012..Also he has run at the finish in 21 consecutive races. I say the streak ends today and he’ll pull out his first win at Daytona. 

Peterson-Holt title fight in biorhythms

I won’t be around to see the entire card but here’s a look at the main event. This is for Lamont Peterson’s IBF junior lightweight title, 12 rounds, Washington DC

First the challenger, Kendall Holt (28-5-0,16 KO):

Not good cycles here. He doesn’t appear motivated or willing to see a long fight through. He’ll land his punches but he’ll be especially weak. 

Now for Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KO)

These cycles aren’t so great either but, fighting in his birthplace of DC, he’ll have strong show of support from the crowd.  

Both fighters are coming in with below average cycles, but Peterson’s high emo cycle should be the determining factor and is starting to gain strength. Could be a sloppy fight. 
Peterson to retain belt, winning by decision. 

KEYNOTE: Ranking the Fear Factor and Offensive Value stats

This post aims to sum up the prior post. So far I’ve revealed the Fear Factor (contact average and bases per hit), Percentage of Offensive Value (balancing point between power and average/sacrifice tendencies) and I’ve given you an historical and recent sample from each.

Putting it together we can construct something of a profile for each player and gather insight on what that batter’s tendencies appear to be. Further the batters can be grouped in the different parts of the matrix and we can also see who would best fit the prototype of an ideal batter. And who is that ideal, you ask? He should have:
High Fear Factor (top 10% of sample)
Central Offensive Value % (as close to 50% as possible)

What I did was rank each of the top 40 sample results from players in the 2012 sample, and the top 40 of the historical sample. From this the average rank in both samples will reveal which are the more complete hitters. 15 batters acheived top 40 status in both, and here’s how they stack up:
1: Chuck Klein
2: Vladimir Guerrero
3: Earl Averill
4: Ernie Banks
5: Moises Alou
6: Joe DiMaggio
7: Juan Gonzalez
8: Al Simmons
9: George Brett
10: Stan Musial
11: Cal Ripken
12: Billy Williams
13: Rogers Hornsby
14: Lefty O’Doul
15:  Ryan Braun
I assigned 1 point for the best %OV value, and 2 points for each ascending number away from the central figure. The values in OV I then doubled to get the rank, as I could go only 20 in either direction.  For the FF I simply charted the top 40. I combined the 2 point totals and ranked from lowest total to highest.  Everyone else listed with some portion of the top 40. I assigned a defacto score of 80 (midpoint between 41 and 121 for these players, added to the total they ranked in. 48 other players fell into this group. Here’s the top 10 best of the rest.
16 Tony Perez
17 Johnny Mize
18 tie Hank Aaron
18 tie Minnie Minoso
20 Albert Pujols
21 Jackie Robinson
22 Albert Belle
23 Lou Gehrig
24 Willie Mays
25 Hank Greenberg

Here’s the ranked historic spreadsheet attached to see the remainder of the results.

As times change for both active players and when I uncover more historical data, the historical sample will definitely grow in shape.  From time to time, maybe after I receive enough suggestions for players (please suggest, please?), I will revise this list and rerank. There are so many players that can be on this list. I just stuck with specific categories to begin with.
So in this unofficial example, Chuck Klein is the most complete ballplayer in history, and not far ahead of, of all players, Vlad The Impaler as his modern day equivalent..

Now for the 2012 rankings: For the sake of brevity I’m tracking those who are in the top 40 in either FF or %VO and applying the ranks in like manner as the historical.  As I crunched the numbers, just a few players matched the top 40 on either side. In order of #1 through #4, here they are:
Aaron Hill (437.748 FF, 3rd) .496%OV,
Adrian Beltre (425.045 FF, 7th) .510 %OV,
Troy Tulowitzki (407.334 FF, 23rd), .497 %OV
and Adam Jones (396.300 FF, 32nd), .503%OV.
These four are thus the most complete ballplayers from 2012, sporting a combination of making great contact, a threat to hit for power, and each showing no proclivity to rely on solely power or average to contribute to the team.

All the other players matched just one column. From here I’ll leave it to you to see which players match up with whom.  Just put the players who rank in 1 of the categories to be better than those who don’t rank at all.

Here’s the full spreadsheet of 2012 players with the ranks:

OK, OK, 2 examples, good examples at that. The top 2 players in FF did not rank in the %OV list:
Jose Bautista proved to be the most dangerous player by FF, with a 448.567 score. It’s paired with a walloping .301 %OV, absolutely dead-red sort of hitter.   Then there’s Yuniesky Betancourt, who’s 2nd in MLB for FF with 447.270.  And he’s on the opposite part of the %OV spectrum, proving to hit more for average than power, with his .587.  That score is closer to a perfect 50%, so Betancourt is more complete than Jose Bautista…
Remember that the ideal players should have an FF score as high as possible, with an %OV score as central to 50% as possible. Whether Bill James intended a central score or not, this is how I happen to see this formula.

Here’s hoping you’re inspired to compare your favorites for your fantasy league or otherwise start or end some good baseball discussions!

KEYNOTE: Reintroducing an old Bill James formula, applying historic/modern significance

I don’t recall the date I had begun walking to the library by myself but it probably once I turned 13. The walk was long 4 blocks which eventually would cover 20 minutes time, walking at my mom’s pace, as we would go up either the main street in our neighborhood in Southern Brooklyn, or we’d be curious and go up one of the nearby side streets to admire the housing and elements. I share in my mom’s everlasting sense of wonder and curiousness.  Enough so, that I did immediately graduate to one whole half of one floor of branch 44. Everywhere else in the library there were the adult books, the grown-up books, the mysterious microfilm, and the wooden racks that held the spines of the daily newspapers near the front.  We split time between that one and branch 56, near the subway, and a longer haul, always taking the scenic route, often combined with a shopping trip. Mom was always about ensuring there was enough food at home, even if there already was enough for a couple of weeks.
I seemed to recall gravititating to a few particular sections, with no real guidance as to which subject to lean to. The sports-related material were in the 740s of the Dewey Decimal System. Here I borrowed a good deal of books. One of these was an inspiring read about the Triple Crown horse racing winners. Another that comes to mind was a book on New Games, something of a hippie invention, but one that introduced such concepts as Earthball.

I had begun following baseball since about 1980, passively taking interest in the sport around 1976, hearing so much about the signing of one Reggie Jackson to the Yankees, and hearing next to nothing but about losing from the Mets side of things.  Dad seemed to be more of a Yankees fan, but I imagine he still cared about the Dodgers, as he was in his own teens attending games at Ebbetts Field. I never asked him about the 1950s rivalries between them, the Yankees and Giants.  I grew my interest in baseball through not only watching with my dad the Yankees AND Mets games, but the NBC Game Of The Week, a staple for decades at 1pm Saturday for pre-game, 115pm for first pitch. The 2 big names I had latched onto for heroes were Reggie, and Pete Rose. Maybe it was the constant exposure from TV (Reggievision, anyone?), or the way Dad pointed out the true hustle that was Charlie Hustle. While my folks did what they could to keep up with the neighbors (I don’t think we actually had Jones in the 6-story co-op we lived in), I was enrolled for one spring in the local Little League. I recall wearing #14 for Pete, and was something of a free swinger. I was OK, tho over the years I figured out how to swing late and develop more of a sense of patience. What did I know about tagging up, or coaching my teammates? I didn’t. But I did have fun, and I think the coaches understood.

So 1984 comes around, and I don’t stick around for Little League (the folks balked at having to pay for multiple seasons and probably wanted me on a short leash as it was).  As I check out other subjects like astronomy, astrology, some reference books, I find a new book among the sports. It’s The 1983 Bill James Baseball Abstract. Hello…..

This page from 2004 documents much of the innards of this publication.
Everything there is true. I learned about the wonders of Runs Created, The Favorite Toy, ballpark bias, The Pythagorean Method, a de facto Hall of Fame (and Museum) and thoroughly original analysis to explain what were on our baseball cards and TV sets. Sports radio was still some years away, as were the idea of pushbutton knowledge.  I was still yet to explore Elias’s masterwork publication in the annual Baseball Analyst.
I recall the library having to raise money to stay open more hours, and I was overjoyed to find that this book was for sale. And so I did purchase it..probably not more than one dollar.  My appreciation for the game grew and multiplied.

It’s in recalling this book that I introduce a formula that was introduced right alongside the Runs Created stat. I have not seen any further printing of the formula but as I use it, it’s become an absolute staple in my search for ideal players, whether to follow in fantasy, or replay league or otherwise for mindless historical comparatives. The latest such comparative was done in my previous post.

But now we turn to this formula: Percentage of Offensive Value.   James explains the stat to mean that a player uses more of his value when he bunts and sacrifices, and less so when swinging for the fences. From what I recall, he wrote nary a paragraph on the subject, with a small diagram explaining the difference. I believe he was properly giving more positive weight to the players who bothered to move the runners over in classic small-ball instead of playing solely for power or something derivative of Earl Weaver’s three-run-HR model (no SBs, no bunts, just get on base, and get them home)

The formula itself:
% = H(squared) /AB / RC
I don’t quite get why squaring a number should have the desired effect tho it might have something to do with the amount of standard deviations.
RC is Runs Created, calculated as RC = {(H+BB) x (TB)} / (AB + TB)} This is the original version, while its many spawns have included SB and sacrifice numbers.  The version I’m using is lifted from I’m pretty sure they stick to the old formula, but they don’t spell out exactly which version.

This formula, after dividing by the number of AB, spells out exactly how many runs the player would create if he had nothing but singles and BBs. When divided by the actual number of runs created, we’ll get a %, very typically between 25 and 75%, with numbers outside that range in extreme cases.  The higher the number, the greater amount of singles and walks and potential sacrifices were used in creating runs, while a lower amount suggested a power hitter is at work.

My own appropriation of %OV takes this standard and sets a balancing point of 50%. This mark introduces my concept of the Zen batter (a nod here to the Tao Of Baseball). Players within the 45-55% area are relatively balanced, being adept to hit for average and power alike, taking a few chances but also the ability to take one for the team, as it were.   Players below 40% and above 60% gathered real identities;  you can see the power and sacrifice qualities inherent in a ballplayer.   Ballparks I imagine will have some effects but these players generally don’t change stripes much at all.

Let’s go back to our 2 spreadsheets:
2012 MLB players:

Historical sample:

That last column with %OV is what we’re focusing on. Compare this percentage to the FF number and you’ll eventually uncover a different kind of matrix, one that represents more of the sense of a complete ballplayer.  Here are the 4 quadrants of the matrix:

Higher Fear Factor number (say, converted # in the 400s) with a lower %OV (below 45%)
In the historical sample, here are such players: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Aaron, Mays, Griffey, et al.

Higher Fear Factor number with a more balanced %OV: (IDEAL) Billy Williams, Moises Alou, Chuck Klein, Vladimir Guerrero, George Brett.

Higher Fear Factor number with a higher %OV (above 55%): (few examples, but 2012 players include Manny Machado, Brandon Phillips, Yunieksy Betancourt, Juan Rivera, Giancarlo Stanton)

Lower Fear Factor number with lower %OV (rare types: Rickey Henderson, Mike Cameron)

Lower Fear Factor number with a central %OV: Jose Guillen,

Lower Fear Factor number with higher %OV: Billy Hamilton, Hughie Jennings, Willie Keeler, David Eckstein, Lou Brock, Rod Carew.

Comparing Ruth to Gehrig again: Both have more of a true power number (surprise, but it’s Gehrig whose numbers are more centralized).

Willie, Mickey, Duke again:
Mays (418.772, .418)
Mantle (365.015, .353)
Snider (400.221, .423)
All three are strongly power oriented, Mantle more so than the others. At the same time, Mays is the most ‘dangerous’, with that FF number, while Mantle is more average at 365)

In the final post I’ll explore the concept of the ultimate batter based on the further comparison of these two stats.

KEYNOTE: Using a new baseball formula with a look to the historical(part 2 of 4)

What I want to convey with Fear Factor is the measure of how dangerous a player is at the plate, the threat of hitting a home run without missing so many pitches. The higher the number, the better. Anything above the converted number of 360 suggests a power hitter at work.
For a refresher course, read the prior post on how this is calculated

Naturally, after focusing on new formulas using players the 2012 season, I gravitated to building an historical sample using players of yesterday and yesteryear.  For the sake of this study, I took the top 25 players who led in these stats, career-wise: plate appearances, batting average, slugging average, strikeouts, walks, hit by pitch, hits and home runs.  I took out a handful of players whose stats were incomplete (all from the prior turn of the century), and added some players just for curiosity.

Here is the attached spreadsheet with this historical sample

Meanwhile: It’s hard to find a modern day hitter with a strong contact average. Best such examples outside of the top 12 include Brooks, Rose, Musial, Banks, Brett. Even Fernando Vina makes his presence felt here.

Joe Dimaggio impresses as having the best FF number of any player I’ve researched. An amazing combo of contact stats and bases per hit, second to none.  And if you recall the quick and dirty method, matching HRs to Ks, his stats are just about even. Find a player who compares that way.  I haven’t, yet.
Gehrig outpoints The Babe in this formula. Sure, the Babe had better firepower, but Lou’s higher contact average makes the better difference.  No real surprise that Hank and Mays are on the top 12 list but how about Ernie Banks? Another surprise among the often overlooked is Johnny Mize.

Again, the matrix is to be recalled:
Batters with high contact average, high bases per hit: Shoeless Joe and Lefty O’ are ideal here.
Batters with high contact average, low bases per hit: Willie Keeler the best example.l
Batters with low contact average, high bases per hit: Thome and Dunn are the ultimate free swingers.
Batters with low contact average, low bases per hit: Too many to mention.

Ted Williams might not be the greatest hitter ever, but he’s totally in the convo. His contact average is at the lower 30% mark, and his bases per hit are around the top 25% mark.

Pete Rose gets tepid marks but he was especially good at making contact, much more so than for any power he displayed.

Willie, Mickey, Duke? Measuring the FF, it’s Mays, by a fair amount, over The Duke.

I expect this to start conversations as well as end a few. I’ve highlighted the top 12 twelve in each category. The stat in the last column will be dealt with in the next post.