Life is Sport Games

Honus Wagner Receives a $40 fine for throwing Ball at Umpire

On August 2, 1905, Honus Wagner was called out on a close play at 1st base by umpire George Bausewine. Wagner showed his displeasure for the call by throwing a baseball near Bausewine during warmups for the next inning. Bausewine then ejected Wagner who was later suspended for 3 games and fined $40 by League President Harry Pulliam. It was Wagner's 3rd suspension of the season.

What is unique about George Bausewine is that he played MLB for 1 season an umpired MLB for 1 season. He played in 1889 for the Philadelphia Athletics and umpired in 1905.

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Playing a 2014 Baseball Team vs an 1883 One

This is regarding baseball. Playing a team from 1880 against one from 2014 is problematic as most of you know. The key issues are teams from the 1880's scored like 5.7 runs per game, while teams from 2014 scored 4.0.  The biggest difference is errors made.  Compare 2014 with 1883. In 2014, 0.59 errors were committed per team/per game. In 1883, 4.78 errors were committed per team/per game. That is 8 times more errors committed back then. No doubt due in part to the gloves they used back then and not having a groomed infield or 'perfect' grass. Case in point. In 1883, the Philadelphia  Quakers made 639 errors in 99 games. That is 6.45 errors committed per game. Of the 4565 runs scored by all teams in 1883, only 2,423 were earned while 2,142 were unearned. The average pitcher ERA was 3.13 back then, compared to 3.74 in 2014. The big difference? Unearned runs in 2014 accounted for 8% of total runs while in 1883 they accounted for 47%. It is mind boggling.

 

Just how do folks deal with this? If you put the actual error chance on the batter's card, the team from 1883 will 'force' the 2014 team to make 8 times more errors than then actually would. The only thing I can think of is to give an across the board defensive bonus to players from 2014 and a negative bonus to players from 1883. Of course the bonus/penalty would vary from decade to decade.

When I rate players, what the average defensive rating is depends on what the league average was for that particular year. So pitting an average defense from 2014 vs one from 1883 is a huge wrench in the works.

Then there is the matter of stolen bases. No records of SB's were kept in the 1880's. When they were 1st kept in 1900, they counted a runner going from 1st to 3rd on a single as a stolen base. So there is no way of knowing actual stolen bases. Even then, caught stealing were not tracked yet either. I'd like to hear ideas on this.

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The 1878 Boston Red Stockings

Tommy Bond started 59 games of the 60 game season for the Boston Red stockings in 1878. His record was 40-19. He pitched 532.2 innings with an ERA of 2.06  If he played today he would probably earn $45 million a year. Baseball-Reference only lists a 10 man roster for Boston's 1878 team.

Bond was the only dedicated pitcher. Jack Manning was the only other player to pitch for Boston that season. He was primarily an outfielder who only pitched in 3 games. I'm guessing they didn't have a disabled list back then. Nobody got hurt back then, or when they did they played anyways.

Pre 1900's baseball has sparked my interest. Have to look into it more as its fun to see how the game evolved. Without the Boston Red Stockings there probably would never have been the Boston Red Sox. Actually The Red Stockings are considered to precede the Boston Bean Eaters and are part of the heritage of the Braves. Still the Red Stocking franchise moving out of Boston made room for the Red Sox eventually.

Boston Bean Eaters, now there was a good name for a baseball team.

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MLB's Runs per Game Average has Dropped since 2006

Here is a list of the runs per game average in MLB since 2006

Year            Runs/Game

2006                4.86

2007                4.80

2008                4.65

2009                4.61

2010                4.38

2011                4.28

2012                4.32

2013                4.17

2014                4.07

 

These stats come from Baseball-Reference

 

Each year, except for in 2012, the run averages went down. Is this because maybe the sport

has finally gotten cleaned up from PEDs? Is it perhaps more from defensive shifting that reduces 

base hits? In 2006 the league batting average was .269, while in 2014 it was .251.

 

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Random Thoughts on WAR stats in Baseball

I've never put any weight on WAR stats and do not use them for anything. The hardest stat to determine is defensive range and that is always a part of WAR figures. Defensive range is figured by number of opportunities a player converts by assist or put out per nine innings. Of course the trouble is, a team could have the best defensive infielders in the league but they could also have a pitching staff that has a high strike out ratio. Then the defense gets less opportunities, thus a lower defensive range which is deceptive.

 I know there are organizations that track defensive range by each play. They look at video and decide, for example, if the fly out that dropped in front of the center fielder would have been caught by an average center fielder. This introduces human judgement into what is an average center fielder. You also have to define what is a good jump for an outfielder. Maybe it looks like he had no chance to catch it cause he was 12 feet away, but maybe he got a bad jump on it instead. 

 I think defensive range has value if done with the opportunities per 9 innings method, but only over several seasons. Then using the average from at least 3 seasons. In a single season, its too easy for defensive stats to get scewed. Also, the 1st baseman gets so many put outs, that his defensive range value has little use. 

In a way, any baseball sim designer that rates his players is doing a form of WAR calculations. In my version of 'True to Life Baseball' I give all players a 2 digit value ranging from 20-60.  It isn't meant to be a WAR stat but could be so converted by finding the average player score, then use that as the baseline and assign a certain +/- run value to each point above or below the average player rating. 

 

In my system I take offense, defense and base running into account for position players. Pitchers are only rated in pitching categories.  

 

Please check out other topics in my baseball blog

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Is Jake Arrieta now in the same league as Kershaw and Bumgarner?

As I don't follow the cubs too closely, the first time I became aware of how dominate Jake Arrieta is as a pitcher is when I rated him for the 2014 TTL baseball season set. My rating system uses 5 pitching categories. (ERA is not one of them) The highest possible score is 60 and I have never given out a 60. Well Arrieta scored a 59 for his 2014 efforts. 

 

Now you can't take too much from ERA but it is useful as a first look comparison. What really stands out is the difference between 2014 and every previous year for Jake. The question is, has he found his groove and will now be dominant going forward, or was 2014 his career year? I have listed his ERA's from 2010 to 2014 below.

Year       ERA

2010  -   4.66

2011  -    5.05

2012  -    6.20

2013  -    4.78

2014  -    2.53

 

In 2014 his WHIP was under 1 and his SO/BB ratio was over 4. He only allowed opponents a .203 batting average. That is dominant stuff for a starting pitcher. I will be following him more closely next year.

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Is there really Parity in MLB?

You could make a case that there is now more parity than ever before in baseball. Lets breakdown the National league to try to either prove or disprove the notion that there is parity in baseball. Out of 15 teams, only 6 teams finished above .500. This gives a mixed message about parity. On one hand, most of the teams are equally bad. On the other hand, there are less teams than ever that are actually competitive.  The only real question late in the year was who would be the home team for the Wild Card game. All the other playoff spots had for all practical purposes been determined with 2 weeks left in the season.

 

There is actually less parity in baseball now than in the 90's and here is the nail in the parity coffin. Counting this year, the Cardinals will have now been in the last 4 NLCS. The Giants will have been in 3 of the last 5 NLCS. That means that out of the possible 10 teams that could have played in the last 5 National League Champion Series, The Cards or Giants have accounted for 8.

 

Is this good for baseball? It must be or those in charge would make changes. In all sports there is often a dominant team or figure and it seems to help ratings. Take NASCAR where it has been either Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson winning 85% of all championships since the turn of the century. For myself, I tune out competitions that feature the same person or team year after year. To me, the sport loses its entertainment value when who gets into the NLCS is predictable. 

I still recall the due or die WC playoff game that Atlanta lost to the Cards in part because an umpire called an infield fly on a flare that dropped uncaught in the outfield. I also note that the Cardinals take more pitches than any team in baseball and get rewarded by having borderline pitches called as balls. The umpire could shorten the games down from there current 4 hour marathons by calling pitches 1/4" off the plate as a strike. I'll leave that topic for another day.

 

To sum up, there is no parity in baseball and the powers that be want it that way. They want to see the Giants play the Cardinals in the NLCS for the next century. Yawn! I say, thank God for the American League and the Kansas City Royals.

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Love how the Royals are Built

A bit ironic that the team with the fewest regular season homers in all of baseball goes yard to win the game in extra innings. The Angels finally found a way to shut down the Royals speed game by keeping them off the bases. So what do the Royals do? They simply out pitched the Angels, albeit by only 1 pitch, but that was all it took. It feels like its the Royals year. I believe that once a wild card team gets into the playoffs, they have the least amount of pressure because they are playing with house money. Even so, it still is extra innings of the playoffs and the Royals are peaking just at the right time. I'd hate to be the Angels right now.

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A's @ Royals Game - one of the Best Ever

That was one exciting game last night between the A's and the Royals. I really like how the Royals are built on offense. As I live near Milwaukee and am well aware of the Brewers collapse this year, I can't help but contrast how different the offensive approaches are between the Royals and Brewers. The Brewers are built similar to the A's. They both have power, but what makes the A's better is they work the count more and also draw walks, thus they get more multi run homers. The Royals are built with contact hitters and speed. In last nights game speed trumped power. Not only that but I believe a speed and contact team is much more fun to watch than a power team. Power hitters are streaking, all or nothing. Contact and speed players are more steady and don't go into the prolonged slumps. Actually, players don't lose speed over the course of the season, (unless from injury) where as power hitters sometimes either wear down or just slump badly. When a power team loses its power, all that thee have left are strike outs and double plays. Case in point were the 2014 Brewers. 

I honestly would like to see the Royals make it to the World Series to face the Pittsburgh Pirates. That would really annoy ESPN because apparently ESPN has never heard of either of those teams before.

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