Baseball

I am a fan of the Boston Red Sox, LA Dodgers, and California/Anaheim/LA Angels, but I am also interested in understanding the game. I have thus done a fair amount of analysis. My primary interests are statistics and labor relations. The articles here have mostly been posted to the USENET groups rec.sport.baseball.analysis or rec.sport.baseball.

Major documents

Frequently Asked Questions about the Baseball Labor Negotiations
This is an attempt to clarify many of the issues which come up in discussions of the current labor negotiations, including details of the various proposals and explanation of the economic issues involved. It was posted to rec.sport.baseball monthly but will be retired soon, as MLB has now completed two labor contracts with little contention.
Frequently Asked Questions about the 1994 Strike
Frequently Asked Questions about the 2002 Baseball Labor Negotiations
Frequently Asked Questions about the 2006 Baseball Labor Negotiations
The forerunners of the labor negotiation document. The 1994 strike document, which has reference material on the proposals in the 1994-1995 strike, was retired in March 2002. The 2002 document, which covers the 2002 labor negotiations and the following steroid negotiations, was retired in November 2006. The 2006 document, which covers the 2006 labor negotiations and the Mitchell report, was retired in November 2011.
The Sabermetric Manifesto
Bill James defined sabermetrics as the search for objective knowledge about baseball. This article goes into more detail, explaining how sabermetrics works, and discussing some of its important conclusions.
Do Clutch Hitters Exist?
Are there baseball players with an ability to contribute more on offense than is indicated by their raw statistics? And if there is an ability, how important is it? Early studies of clutch hitting, including some of mine, concluded that if there is an ability, it is not of much baseball significance. Recent studies, with better data available thanks to Retrosheet, have shown a statistically significant ability. A study by Nate Silver suggests that the best clutch hitters have an ability to contribute half an extra win a year beyond their raw statistics. We will look at the studies, and at possible explanations for the significant clutch ability.

This is a slightly expanded version of a presentation which I gave at a meeting of the Boston chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research.
The Brock2 system (get both C source and documentation as plain text)
The Brock2 system, developed by Bill James, projects a player's career from his recent statistics. It doesn't give a perfect projection (both because of imperfections in the system and because of normal human variability), but it is interesting to see what a reasonable career projection would be. How many home runs might Albert Pujols hit in his career?

Analysis of specific subjects

Most of these articles are posted in the original form in which they appeared as articles in rec.sport.baseball or rec.sport.baseball.analysis. As a result, some of them may include text quoted from an older article to which I had replied.
Clutch hitting
Do some players have the ability to hit better with the game on the line than at other times? The answer is either that there is no such ability, or that there is an ability which is so small that it makes little difference in evaluating players.
Hitting with runners in scoring position
This is similar to the clutch hitting study; are there players who hit better with runners in scoring position than at other times? Again, the ability might exist, but it's less than one hit per season if it does.
Protection
Does it help a hitter to have a good hitter on deck? Obviously, the protected hitter will draw fewer walks (since he won't be walked intentionally), but does it make any difference in the results when he is given a chance to hit the ball? Many sportswriters believe that it does, because the protected hitter will get to see more hittable pitches. American League hitters' bats don't agree with that claim; hitters who were protected only some of the time didn't hit any better when they were protected.
Minor-league equivalencies
Bill James developed the system of minor-league equivalencies, allowing a player's minor-league numbers to be converted to the equivalent at the major-league level, adjusting for the difference in the quality of play and the difference between parks. I did a quick study to see how well this conversion worked. It turns out to work very well; a player who hit the minor-league equivalent of .300 in AAA is just as likely to hit near .300 in the minors as a player who hit .300 in the majors last year.

Other sources of information

Sean Lahman's Baseball Page is a large archive of baseball information.

Stathead Consulting, developed by Keith Woolner, includes the Baseball Engineering Page with a lot of articles similar to mine.

My home page