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Wednesday, September 05, 2001

Bonds stats among the best everScripps Howard

Nice read. Good promo for the “statheads”.

The Original Gary Posted: September 05, 2001 at 06:03 PM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. David Jones Posted: September 05, 2001 at 07:33 PM (#72394)
I find it hard to accept that Martinez's season was the greatest ever. ERA + is not the be-all and end-all of pitching stats--other things need to be taken into consideration, particularly innings pitched. Also, adjusting for league averages and ballparks has its pitfalls, not the least of which is that a pitcher in a very good pitcher's era would find it near impossible to outpace the league in the manner Martinez did. Secondarily, do we really think that Martinez pitching in a great pitcher's park would have had significantly more success than he achieved in Fenway? It seems to me that strikeouts and popups are just as easy to come by in Boston as they are in Los Angeles.

All this is not to say, of course, that Martinez' 2000 season is not one of the finest of the 20th century. I'd say, without thinking too extensively on it, that it is probably in the Top 10.
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 05, 2001 at 08:44 PM (#72396)
Pedro may well have had the most statistically dominant year ever, relative to the rest of the league, but it's hard to top what Lefty did in '72: The Phillies were 27-10 with him, and 32-87 without him! Putting this in perspective, Carlton's W-L Pct. was better than that of the 1927 Yankees or the 2001 Mariners, while the rest of the Phillies were worse than the 1952 Pirates.
   3. RichRifkin Posted: September 05, 2001 at 11:12 PM (#72398)
David Jones comments, "adjusting for league averages and ballparks has its pitfalls..."

I'm starting to have more and more doubts about how generalized adjustments are made for ballpark effects. I know that some statheads account for the complaint I am about to make, but others don't; and by not doing so, it can lead to very fault one-year stats for things like ERA+.

What's my complaint? It's three-fold:

First, the 80 or 81 home games played in a single ballpark are too few to get a correct reading of that park's effect. Yet, a stat like ERA+ (and some others) depend on the fact that the PF for that season is not out of whack.

Second, in some parks, such as Wrigley Field, the weather plays a large role in what effect the Park actually has on the game score. It is very possible, even likely, that one pitcher on the Cubs staff, for example, will have pitched in a very hitter-friendly in a single season, while another will have pitched in a very pitcher-friendly park that same season. Yet, to figure each pitcher's ERA+ or his VORP or his SNVA, both pitchers will be subject to the same Park Factor, as if it actually were the same for both of them.

Third, the unbalanced schedule with interleague play makes adjusting for Park Factor even trickier. Why? Because the "league" each team now plays in is different for each team. The "league" that the Seattle Mariners pitchers compete in includes a lot of games at the Ballpark in Arlington, Edison International Field, and the Oakland Coliseum, and very few games against the teams in the AL East and AL Central. Additionally, the M's have in recent years played road games at Coors Field. By contrast, the Red Sox play in a different "league." Theirs is full of games at Tropicana, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, and the Skydome. They have not (so far) been playing road dates at Coors. Instead, they have been going to Shea and Stadium Olympique.

So, if a measurement such as ERA+ is now adjusted for "the American League," it can and will be significantly innacurate.

The only solution I have for this is that the park and league adjustment figures must become more sophisticated. (Perhaps in some cases they are.) For an individual pitcher, his ERA+ must account not for the League he pitched in, but for the "league" and actual ballparks he pitched in.

For ballparks on the whole, it seems worthwhile to account for the actual weather on gameday and how that impacts Park Factor. (I should note that I have tried to do this, but the project was beyond my resources and available time.)
   4. scruff Posted: September 06, 2001 at 09:54 PM (#72399)
"Secondarily, do we really think that Martinez pitching in a great pitcher's park would have had significantly more success than he achieved in Fenway? It seems to me that strikeouts and popups are just as easy to come by in Boston as they are in Los Angeles."

It's not that it's necessarily harder for Pedro to pitch in Fenway. But the other team's pitchers ARE giving up more runs, which means that his ability to maintain his normal park performance (based on your assumption) still results in more real wins for his team than if he were pitching in LA for example. Pedro deserves credit for that.

That is why I think you still have to adjust for the park. The key would be for someone like STATS (or anyone that has access and time) to come up w/really solid park factors that take unbalanced schedule into account. It won't be perfect (as in the Wrigley weather example), but it's still much better than not adjusting at all.

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