Sunday, December 14, 2003

Twins vs. Royals = BAP Revelations

Quick Message To those BAP Believers - You're gonna love this.

Bases Advanced Percentage was originally designed to measure all of the things that happen in a ball game that don't end up in either On-Base Percentage (OBP) or Slugging Percentage (SLG). It seemed to me that things like going from first to third on a single, or sacrificing successfully with runners on first and second, were game events that were very relevant, and to ignore their importance because they were not convenient was a mistake made by nearly the entire stat community. I devised a way to measure the number of extra bases gained (EBs) and dove deep into game logs to see if BAP could do a better job of predicting game results than OBP, SLG, and OPS, on the theory that any stat that was worth anything must prove itself to be very important in determining the winners and losers of ball games. The tests were run three times during the season, the most recent being the entire 2003 post-season, and each time BAP proved to be the most accurate.

It was while I was discussing the Playoff results that I came across the following stats for the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals:

OBP - KC .336, Min .341
SLG - KC .427, Min .431
Runs - KC 836, Min 801

How can a team that has a higher OBP and a higher SLG than another team get outscored by 35 runs? Where is all of the missing offense for the Royals? Is it EBs?

I set about to find out. The goal became this, to find the total number of EBs for both the Royals and Twins, and to calculate the BAP scores for each, to see if BAP would explain the difference between the run totals. In theory, if BAP is the difference, then the Royals would need much higher EB totals than the Twins to make up the differences in OBP and SLG.

Now of course, I'm not done yet. This is going to take some time. I've only finished 18 games for each team, but the results are so interesting that I needed to share them, so here we go:

After 18 games, the Royals have scored 94 runs, and have gained 103 EBs.

After 18 games, the Twins have scored 72 runs, and gained 79 EBs.

Well, so far so good. The Royals are scoring runs and accumulating EBs at higher rates, which is what we wanted to see. As a matter of fact the rates by themselves are interesting, too. When I first saw these numbers, I couldn't help but notice that both teams were gaining EBs at a little more than one per run. So I decided to calculate it. What I found was that the Royals, with 103 EBs and 94 runs, are scoring 1 run for every 1.10 EBs. The Twins, with 79 EBs and 72 runs are scoring 1 run for every . . . no . . . that can't be right can it?

1.10 EBs?!

Here are the stats extended to four places beyond the decimal point:

Royals - 1.0957 EBs/Run
Twins - 1.0972 EBs/Run

What the hell does this mean? Well first of all, there seems to be a direct relationship between the number of runs a team scores and how many EBs it accumulates. But that leaves us with the ol' chicken-and-egg theory: Does the scoring of runs cause more EBs, or does more EBs cause more runs?

My first feeling is that this couldn't hold true all of the time, that it is too small a sample. I mean, I've scored some Red Sox games, and they always seemed to score lots runs without any EBs. And if the scoring of runs was causing more EBs, then we would never see something like the Twins-Royals Scenario (from now on to be called TRS, I can see where I'm going to get tired of typing the whole thing out), where the team that has a higher OBP and SLG has scored fewer runs. But it's still possible that the gaining of a high number of EBs is ONE WAY of scoring a lot of runs, which could explain the TRS.

But none of this explains those two rates. What are the odds that both teams are accumulating EBs at the exact same rate as runs scored? I know it's only 18 games, but if a player comes into the majors with no prior stats to judge him on (think Roy Hobbs) and gets hits in his first 18 games, it's safe to say he's a pretty good hitter.

Lets take this one step further. Suppose the rates stay the same for the entire season. Will that explain the differences in run totals in the TRS?

The Royals scored 836 runs in 2003. If they stay at the rate of 1.1 bases per runs scored, they will accumulate 920 EBs for the season.

The Twins scored 801 runs in 2003. If they stay at the rate of 1.1 bases per runs scored, they will accumulate 881 EBs for the season.

Projected BAP Scores for 2003:

Royals .617
Twins .616

It appears that BAP will in fact be able to explain the differences in run totals between the Twins and Royals.

I'm going to leave this post up until next weekend. After that, I have 16 days off, so I'll have more updates then. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you. What do you make of all this?

BAP For Beginners

Dave's Email

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

State of Emergency

This is what the town I work in looked like yesterday. Because of this, there's no school tomorrow (!), just like today and Monday. It's difficult to send busloads of kids down Main Street when you have the National Guard out.

This gives me a chance to finish report cards in an abnormally calm fashion, and to write a couple of blog entries. I was planning to write something about Charles Barkley's endorsement of John Edwards, but I haven't been able to find any mention of that on the web, so I can't verify that it happened. Of course, I've got a great Charles Barkley story of my own, so I might just share that with you instead. Tune in tomorrow to find out.

Dave's Email

Sunday, December 07, 2003

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Sugar Bowl

The other title was going to be Wasted Trojans, but I decided that might not be appropriate.

Eisenberg's College Football Championship (the ECF) was rolling along just fine going into this weekend. Only two teams still qualified for the ECF Championship, Oklahoma and USC, and they were the two teams that most people wanted to see playing for the National Championship, LSU or no LSU. Then the Sooners had to throw out a lemon in the Big 12 Championship game. The BCS did exactly what a poorly conceived system should do - generate poor results - and tonight the college football world is up in arms because the Trojans got screwed, left out of the Sugar Bowl for an exposed and deflated Oklahoma team.

Meanwhile, USC is doing just fine in the ECF Championship race, having only (ONLY!) to defeat a very tough Michigan squad. If they win, they will be rewarded here for their efforts. But what if they don't win? Who becomes the ECF Champion if no team qualifies for the Championship?

This bring us to the last of the ECF Rules, Rule #8:

8. The Everyone is Eliminated Rule - If by some chance, at any point in the season or after the bowl games, all 117 teams have been eliminated, there will still be at least one ECF Champion. The way the ECF Champion is chosen is by the following rules:

a. Only bowl game winners are considered.
b. The first game of every team is eliminated.
c. If any team or teams would now qualify for the Championship, they would be declared the ECF Champions.
d. If no team qualifies, then the second game of every team would be eliminated. If there is anyone who would now qualify, they would now be considered the Champions.
e. If no team qualifies, weeks from the beginning of the season will continue to be eliminated until we have a winner.

I really never expected this rule to be invoked. After all, last year there were five teams still eligible for the ECF Championship going into the bowl games. But I knew I had to plan for every possible outcome, and this was another great way to put more emphasis on games later in the season than on those in the beginning. I think everyone agrees it can take a college team several weeks to gel, and the idea has always been to produce ECF Champions that have not left any proof that they would be incapable of winning a tournament, if one existed. This rule would tend to reward teams that played extremely well for most of the season, but tripped up at the beginning, which makes sense. You want to reward the teams that are best right now, just like every playoff system does.

So, I went armed with my ECF Rule Book in search of potential Champions should USC falter, and was surprised by the results. They are listed below, written in a way very similar to the writing in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Feel free to read it to yourself in the same voice that you read the book to your young child, if you have one.

I eliminated the first game for every team, and no one qualified.

I eliminated the second game for every team, and still no one qualified.

I eliminated the third game for every team, and still no one qualified!

Finally, the fourth game for every team was eliminated, and two teams qualified. They would be the two with the best chance to be ECF Champions if USC loses the Rose Bowl to Michigan.

Wasn't that fun? OK, now get that book out of your head. This is football, damnit.

The first team I found to qualify after four weeks were eliminated was . . .


This is perfect! Eisenberg Sports will have one game where the winner gets at least a share of the ECF Championship, the Rose Bowl Game between USC and Michigan.

The second team to qualify if four weeks are eliminated is . . .

West Virginia!

What? West Virginia?! How can an 8-4 team be considered a Champion? Well, the same way every number five seed has won the NCAA Basketball Tournament, by playing well at the right time.

West Virginia started out the year horribly. They lost their opener at home to a then-highly regarded Wisconsin, then went to East Carolina and blew them out, 48-7. From there, they lost at home to Cincinnati, 15-13, and got smoked at Maryland, 34-7. At this point, four weeks into the season, the Mountaineers were clearly a team completely off of the national radar.

But then the next week, they went into Miami and gave the Hurricanes all they could handle, losing 22-20, an Acceptable Loss. They beat Rutgers at home the following week, then clobbered Virginia Tech 28-7, giving them their all important Win-Against-A-Top-Ten-Team. From there, they won their final five games of the season, scoring no fewer than 34 points in any game.

Still not convinced? The Mountaineers finished with a seven-game win streak, tied for the Big East Conference Championship, and outscored their Big East opponents by 90 points, the largest differential for any Big East team. On top of that, there's this quote from the best of all College Football websites, College Football Weekly:

"It's a shame that the Mountaineers aren't going to a BCS game, because this team is the best in the Big East right now."

Well, what do you expect from the BCS? Meanwhile, Eisenberg Sports has them, right here.

So this is the scenario. If USC beats Michigan in the Rose Bowl, they are the ECF Champions. If Michigan wins, then Michigan becomes an ECF Champion. If Michigan wins and West Virginia beats Maryland in the Gator Bowl, then Michigan and West Virginia share the ECF Championship.

ECF Rules

Dave's Email

Saturday, December 06, 2003


Boylston Street, Saturday morning, before nearly all of the snow.

Snowed in for the weekend, so it would be a shame if I didn't take a little time to write. It's much better than shoveling, or filling out report cards, and I've got all this extra time because I gave up my seat to Pats-Dolphins tomorrow, which is a good hour-and-a-half from my house on a clear day. On top of all that, there were some things in my paper this morning (The Boston Globe) that caught my eye, and that I had an opinion on, so I figured I'd express those here. They're not all sports-related, so feel free to leave if you so desire. Of course, you're always free to leave. It's just a blog, not a black hole.

Washington Cancels Presidential Primary

The state of Washington became the eighth state to cancel their Presidential Primary yesterday. Feeling that their primary was largely inconsequential, they decided to switch to a caucus format, which is less expensive. It sounds like a 70's-style Saturday Night Live skit though - "In a cost-cutting measure, the United States has decided to limit Democracy". Read the whole story here: Washington Cancels Presidential Primary

Congress Eyes Funds For Iran Dissidents

Congress is trying to openly send money to Iran dissidents, a whopping total of 1.5 million dollars. Seeing that this amount could have been easily delivered in a suitcase without our knowledge, and isn't going to overthrow anyone, it's hard to understand what the benefit is of doing this publicly. In fact, if I'm an Al Qaeda Recruiter, this makes my job easier:

"Hey kid. They're friends with Israel, they've invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and Iran is next. Don't believe me? Look at this story!" Congress Eyes Funds For Iraqi Dissidents

We'll finish with what has to be a first, a position by position matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees - in December. Can't Wait Til Next Year

Dave's Email

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Schilling vs. Vazquez

Now that the Yankees have retaliated, it seems to make sense to compare the two moves, the Sox getting Curt Schilling, and the Yanks getting Javier Vazquez. Schilling more or less takes the place of John Burkett, while Vazquez does the same for Roger Clemens. That obviously leans towards the Sox's advantage, but how much? I went over to Baseball Prospectus, where they have some unique stats, including support-neutral won-loss records, which to give an oversimplistic description, gives the hypothetical won-loss stats for pitchers assuming that they had to face completely average circumstances. Here are the records for the four:

Vazquez 16.0 wins and 8.5 losses
Clemens 14.2 wins and 9.6 losses

Schilling 12.8 wins and 4.9 losses
Burkett 9.1 wins and 11.2 losses

The Yankees would appear to pick up one win, while the Sox seem to gain about five. There have been other moves, of course. The Yankees will be adding Gary Sheffield, have given up on Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera, and added Paul Quantrill, Tom Gordon, and Felix Heredia to their bullpen. The Yankees are better, but significantly? I see a very expensive roster that was largely born during the hippy years, which is not a good thing. What is their insurance now if Jason Giambi goes down? And how come it's taking so damn long to sign Andy Pettite? Is David Wells coming back, and does he have anything left?

As a Sox fan, I sleep well these days, with dreams of ARod dancing through my head.

Not my most complete entry ever, but hey, not bad seeing I've spent some time on the bench.

Dave's Email