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## Wednesday, October 16, 2013

#### Hirsch: DiMaggio’s Hitting Streak Is Overrated

So the Jack Ness Fan Club letter campaign has finally taken hold!

The most common reason cited for exalting the Streak is that hitting safely in 56 consecutive games is unparalleled consistency. However, DiMaggio’s streak actually does not demonstrate any unusual consistency. The general understanding of consistency is to do roughly the same thing over and over again. In statistical terms, it is having a small standard of deviation - the mathematical way of saying that there is little variation in the performances.

During the streak, DiMaggio averaged 1.63 +/- .93 hits per game as compared with Williams’ 1.40 +/- 1.05. For additional perspective, Yunel Escobar, who batted exactly the American League mean of .256 this season, averaged .88 +/- .90 hits per game over his first 56 games. There is no statistically significant difference in the three standard deviations (.93, 1.05, .90). Thus, basic mathematical analysis of consistency does not elevate The Streak above Williams’ contemporaneous hitting nor even distinguish DiMaggio’s consistency from a representative average hitter.

Without favorable mathematical analysis, Streak fans can only claim great consistency by changing the measured result from the usual “hits per game” to the contrived formulation “at least one hit in a game” and noting that DiMaggio “did not get zero hits” 56 games in a row. However, eliminating a single result from the 56 games — zero hits — does not necessarily create consistency.

...In 1941 DiMaggio was already a superstar, the Yankee Clipper, a rags-to-riches son of an immigrant fisherman. At that time baseball was particularly prominent in American culture. We are always partial to finding heroes, and America in 1941 may have been particularly ready. The depression was not far in the rear-view mirror. World War II was raging, Hitler was advancing; six days after DiMaggio’s streak started, the first United States ship was sunk by a German U-boat. Perhaps the situation was ripe for defining a super-hero: The right player at the right time with the right feat (pre-OBP and pre-WAR, the base hit was the coin of the realm).

Then the super-hero married Marilyn Monroe, and was celebrated in song (“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?”), literature (“the Great DiMaggio” of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”) and television (“Mister Coffee”). As the DiMaggio aura blossomed, “56” became fixed in the American psyche and grew to transcend sports: The noted commentator Stephen Jay Gould called it “... the finest of legitimate legends because it embodies the essence of the battle that truly defines our lives ... he cheated death”.

The Streak does not warrant the hype.

Repoz Posted: October 16, 2013 at 06:29 PM | 60 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
Tags: history, yankees

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1. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: October 16, 2013 at 07:48 PM (#4575223)
The beauty of long hitting streaks.
2. Sunday silence Posted: October 16, 2013 at 07:48 PM (#4575224)
I havent read the article and perhaps it will make his point better. To me, the streak is all about observer bias, in the case of science, an experimenter who knows what outcome he is looking for is not neutral and is likely to fqck up the results. Even perhaps inadvertantly because he knows what he wants.

In the case of the streak, DiMaggio was helped by a couple of calls on infield hits. I believe they were both against Cleveland's Al Rosen. Because DiMaggio's streak was so mathematically unlikely, I can very reasonably guess that those calls were probably blown. Perhaps inadvertantly blown by the scorers, but blown as observers who were not neutral.
3. Morty Causa Posted: October 16, 2013 at 07:56 PM (#4575259)
Also, DiMaggio was a genuinely great hitter, and a particular type of great hitter who lends himself to that sort of streak--high average, low strikeouts, fairly low walk--he put the wood on the ball almost always. He had hit for an even longer streak in the minors.
4.  Posted: October 16, 2013 at 08:13 PM (#4575289)
DiMaggio was a great player. But the streak in and of itself -- i.e., as opposed to him hitting in 55 of 56 games but tossing an extra hit or two into a random other game -- added precisely zero value to his team, season, or career.

The sooner people realize that things like streaks and no-hitters are pure trivia -- relative to the pitcher allowing a hit but still no runs -- the sooner these people will be smarter.
5. Srul Itza Posted: October 16, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4575344)
Please excuse Ray. Concepts like "fun" and "entertainment" are foreign to his operating system.
6. Rennie's Tenet Posted: October 16, 2013 at 09:23 PM (#4575422)
Then the super-hero married Marilyn Monroe, and was celebrated in song (“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?”)

He was, of course, celebrated in the song "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio" during the streak.
7. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 16, 2013 at 09:37 PM (#4575450)
I love hitting streaks. Not sure what it is but something about hitting streaks entertains me to no end. If you're wondering who that guy is that gives a damn that Player x has a 3 game hitting streak going...it's me.
8. Rob_Wood Posted: October 16, 2013 at 10:42 PM (#4575589)
i hesitate to post this, but i hate no-hitters and hitting streaks too
9. Jay Z Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:09 AM (#4575633)
i hesitate to post this, but i hate no-hitters and hitting streaks too

Why do you watch the game?
10. Rob_Wood Posted: October 17, 2013 at 03:23 AM (#4575654)
11. YR Is Surrounded by Yankees (the bad kind) Posted: October 17, 2013 at 04:45 AM (#4575657)
i hesitate to post this, but i hate no-hitters and hitting streaks too

Why do you watch the game?

I keep waiting for Morganna the Kissing Bandit to return.
12. SandyRiver Posted: October 17, 2013 at 07:30 AM (#4575680)
Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but about the only time I see DiMaggio's streak mentioned these days is when someone writes about how overrated it is. Irony?
13. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: October 17, 2013 at 07:55 AM (#4575691)
I love love love the fact that Williams put up better numbers over the same 56 game stretch of the streak than DiMaggio did.
14. Rants Mulliniks (formerly Cold Prosimian) Posted: October 17, 2013 at 08:15 AM (#4575698)

The sooner people realize that things like streaks and no-hitters are pure trivia -- relative to the pitcher allowing a hit but still no runs -- the sooner these people will be smarter.

Haha, I love it! You're right though Ray - they are noteworthy accomplishments, but don't add a wit of value except at the turnstile.

I think hitting streaks are interesting while they're intact, and worth checking a boxscore for to see if they've been extended one more game, but once they're over, the mystique is gone for me.
15.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 08:26 AM (#4575708)
From a value perspective, if you turn two games in the middle of the 56 into collars and transfer the two hits to other games in the streak, there's no blind bit of difference between the performances – in fact, if you picked and chose the two transfers carefully, you could add two wins to the Yankees' total.

And what would be the fun in that.

From the perspective, not of how valuable a streak performance is, but of what it says about the player, I do find it interesting that the longest hitting streaks are almost all by really great hitters. They have to be hitters of a certain type, naturally: no Ted Williamses or Barry Bondses need apply. But go down the list: DiMaggio, Rose, Keeler, Sisler, Cobb, Molitor. Bill Dahlen is in the Hall of Merit. Tommy Holmes was not a great player, but he had a magnificent wartime season the year of his streak. Jimmy Rollins is the weakest hitter to have a streak over 35, but even he was an MVP.

At 35 you start running into ordinary hitters like Luis Castillo and George McQuinn, but the list is still dominated by Hornsbys and Heilmanns. In other words, these streaks can lay claim to being "signature" events (as Bill James and others have argued): it's not invariable, but they are the mark of great hitters.

The same is true with multiple no-hitters. Single no-hitters are notoriously fluky, literally unrepeatable. But the guys who threw three or more from 60'6" are Young, Feller, Koufax, and Ryan: guys who have dominated career and/or single-season strikeout-record lists. And the list of those who threw two is half outstanding pitchers and half guys who were very good for a while but had truncated careers. Again, it's a certain kind of pitcher, Randy Johnson rather than Greg Maddux, but the accomplishment indicates something; it's not just some shiny statistical tinsel.
16. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 17, 2013 at 08:28 AM (#4575710)
This need to find meaning in everything confounds me. Sometimes stuff is just fun. Maybe hitting streaks aren't your thing, that's fine, but I love 'em.
17.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 08:32 AM (#4575713)
And on a different level, part of fans' engagement with streaks is that, unlike the coin that doesn't know it's got a chance to come up heads for the 30th straight time, the player on a long hitting streak must deal with pressure that ratchets up logarithmically with each successive game. We empathize with that and we participate in piling on the pressure, and we're thrilled when the player triumphs over the pressure. Or some of us are, I reckon.
18. SoSH U at work Posted: October 17, 2013 at 09:57 AM (#4575790)

19. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM (#4575822)
I was at a Rockies game earlier this year, and the Rockies were getting beat badly in the late innings. But Michael Cuddyer was trying to extend a hitting streak to something like 27 games. He came up in the bottom of the eighth carrying on oh-fer, but he poked a single through the infield and gave the fans something to cheer for.

I suppose if we had all been smarter, we'd have been on our way home by then.
20. Baldrick Posted: October 17, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4575843)
Looks like a good hitting performance to me. Not a great one. Virtually every hitter in baseball could do it. And would have, had they failed to clump their hits together in games and instead spaced them out once per every four at bats instead.

The random convergence of events has only happened once, which I guess is why people were fooled into thinking this was a special performance. I see nothing remarkable about it.
21.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4575871)
Looks like a good hitting performance to me. Not a great one. Virtually every hitter in baseball could do it. And would have, had they failed to clump their hits together in games and instead spaced them out once per every four at bats instead.

Well, sure, if it happened, it would happen. But as BDC points out in #35, once you get past 35 games you get into the exclusive realm of MVPs and all-time greats. There's a certain amount of luck involved with seeing eye hits and scoring decisions, but to be able to face different pitchers every day and still make at least one hit every game over a month or more is still a pretty amazing feat. Obviously it's not on the value level of hitting .400 for the season or putting up a 200 OPS+, but there's a hell of a lot more involved here than random chance.

And if you want to consider luck, there's also the great defensive plays factor that works against the hitter. If Ken Keltner hadn't come up with two separate showcase plays to end Dimaggio's 56 game streak, Dimaggio would've gone down in history with a 66 game streak in the PCL and a 73 game streak in the Majors.
22. SoSH U at work Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:02 AM (#4575873)
Well, sure, if it happened, it would happen. But as BDC points out in #35, once you get past 35 games you get into the exclusive realm of MVPs and all-time greats. There's a certain amount of luck involved with seeing eye hits and scoring decisions, but to be able to face different pitchers every day and still make at least one hit every game over a month or more is still a pretty amazing feat. Obviously it's not on the value level of hitting .400 for the season or putting up a 200 OPS+, but there's a hell of a lot more involved here than random chance.

Really Andy.
23. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4575875)
It seems like every time this comes up people bristle and say, "Of course streaks and no-hitters are just fun parts of the game and a bit flukey" which is fine. I love streaks and no-hitters. But what the pushback seems to be is that they aren't generally treated as "Fun trivia" by the populace at large but rather as some example of the greatness of the player exerted over the randomness of the game. Which...I can't say it isn't true, but it doesn't seem to be a very logical standpoint.

To me it's more like taking two great Blackjack card counters. They're playing a positive expectation game but variance can still determine that one leaves with \$500 bucks in his pocket and the other leaves with \$1000. The latter "had the better night" but didn't really do anything better than the former. Meanwhile, if a third card counter leaves with \$25,000 because of a great run of cards...yeah the dude certainly had something to do with that, and if he weren't great at counting cards he never would have taken advantage of that hot streak. But...if you want to call that a "dominant" performance, you're putting a lot more stock in results oriented thinking than the things within the player's control
24.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4575882)
Really Andy.

Hard to read your meter there, but I hope you're not seriously thinking that "Virtually every hitter in baseball could do it."
25. SoSH U at work Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4575888)
But what the pushback seems to be is that they aren't generally treated as "Fun trivia" by the populace at large but rather as some example of the greatness of the player exerted over the randomness of the game. Which...I can't say it isn't true, but it doesn't seem to be a very logical standpoint.

So what? So some people think that hitting streaks or no-hitters say more about a player's greatness than the accomplishments warrant, why the hell should that affect anyone else's enjoyment of the event? That's what I don't get from the I hate no-hitters or hitting streak crowd. It strikes me as the opposite side of the coin of those baseball fans who proclaim that pointy headed nerds and their Say Burr Met Tricks is ruining the sport.

If you can't turn on the last few innings of a no-hitter and enjoy the fact that the pitcher is working on something that will be tremendously meaningful to him, something that can end with a single swing of the bat, and knowing everyone in the park on both teams is living and dying with each pitch, then I daresay you're doing baseball fandom wrong.

I think nothing would be more entertaining as a baseball fan than if someone made a serious run at DiMaggio's mark. Each night, MLB Network would be going live to each at bat of the Clipper Chaser, with the tension building as his oh-fer grows. Damn that would be fun, except perhaps to the Value Above Everything crowd.

Hard to read your meter there, but I hope you're not seriously thinking that "Virtually every hitter in baseball could do it."

The structure of that particular comment doesn't ring a bell. Hint: Manny Machado, defense, BTF's resident automaton, meme.
26.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4575893)

Hard to read your meter there, but I hope you're not seriously thinking that "Virtually every hitter in baseball could do it."

The structure of that particular comment doesn't ring a bell.

See Baldrick's comment in #20, which is what I was responding to in my post right below it. I agree with everything else you're saying about hitting streaks.
27. SoSH U at work Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4575896)

See Baldrick's comment in #20, which is what I was responding to in my post right below it. I agree with everything else you're saying about hitting streaks.

Baldrick was recalling Ray's comment that anyone could make the Manny Machado play. He wasn't being serious. Nor were any of the dozen other posters who have written similar things since Ray's comment. How have you missed them?
28.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4575906)
Okay, now that I re-read Baldrick's comment it's obvious I should've caught the Raybot parody, even if I'd either missed or forgotten some of the others before his.
29. Baldrick Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4575915)
I will say that the bite of the zing is pretty much lost when the real Ray has already posted in the thread and said pretty much exactly what you'd expect. I should read the earlier comments more carefully before jumping into the fray.
30.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4575921)

Okay, now that I re-read Baldrick's comment it's obvious I should've caught the Raybot parody,

If it's any consolation to you, I read Baldrick's comment and I missed that it was supposed to be a parody of me.

I guess I'm not as obsessed with myself as other people are with me.
31. The District Attorney Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4575925)
Baldrick was recalling Ray's comment that anyone could make the Manny Machado play. He wasn't being serious.
And it was a spot-on usage of it, by the way :)

A baseball season is very long, and (especially when you're a Met fan) most of the games mean nothing in the larger scheme of the world championship. So I agree that statistical quirks can give you something to pay attention to. If someone is throwing a no-hitter, then I've got a reason to be interested in a game that wouldn't interest me otherwise.

But, the same could be said of fantasy baseball -- that it gives you a reason to care about games that you otherwise wouldn't -- and I never saw anyone say that if you have no interest in fantasy baseball, you must hate baseball. So let's not go too nuts with badgering people over this. I actually do not watch baseball for the purpose of tracking statistics. No, seriously!

I have a lot more problem with the usage of hits as a career stat than I do with hitting streaks. I suspect that most people think that the hitting streak is evidence of DiMaggio's already unquestioned greatness, not that he was great because he had a hitting streak. But I also suspect most people do in fact think that a guy with 2,500 career hits must have been a better hitter than a guy with 2,000 career hits. Some of them even know a lot about sabermetrics and still revert to hits as a stat when it's career-evaluating time. So that's an issue. (A lot more of an issue than pitcher wins, BTW. And on the in-season level, I also enjoyed e.g. R.A. Dickey's quest for 20 wins more than a hitting streak, because, really. Hits are a sucky stat.)
32. Seaimpíní Domhan! (tfbg9) Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4575926)
I remember reading about some DMB sim or similar type set-up where they ran like 80 bajillion "seasons" of the '41 AL, but could not get the program to spit out a "year" where Dimag' hit in 56 straight.

Does anyone else recall this?
33. Rants Mulliniks (formerly Cold Prosimian) Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4575927)
34. Moeball Posted: October 17, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4575940)
Didn't DiMaggio also set the minor league streak record with a 61-game hit streak for San Francisco in the PCL back in 1933? I seem to recall reading something about that.

I think a more meaningful streak record is one I believe Williams set in 1949 - didn't he reach base via hit or walk in 87 consecutive games that year (well over half a season)?

Also, DiMaggio was a genuinely great hitter, and a particular type of great hitter who lends himself to that sort of streak--high average, low strikeouts, fairly low walk--he put the wood on the ball almost always.

Actually, to be fair, like a lot of hitters, DiMaggio was a pretty free swinger when he first came up with the Yankees in 1936 (only 24 walks in 669 PA that season), but as his batting eye improved over the years (as well as pitchers starting to pitch more carefully to him), his walk totals increased quite a bit. The Year of the Streak in 1941 DiMaggio walked 76 times so I wouldn't necessarily classify him as a guy who had low walk totals. Of course, he didn't walk like Ted Williams did, but who does?
35. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Fielder Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4575943)
I'm guessing hitting four homers in a game (as opposed to three) is pretty much a feat that adds near-zero to the final standings, but when there's a cutaway to that player's attempt at it, I'll bet damn few of us change the channel.

The same for no-hitters and long hitting streaks.
36.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4575948)
If it's any consolation to you, I read Baldrick's comment and I missed that it was supposed to be a parody of me.

Yeah, but you routinely miss your own self-parodies, so the fact that you missed another one isn't exactly surprising.

I guess I'm not as obsessed with myself as other people are with me.

It's the #### derangement syndrome!
37. Baldrick Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4575957)
If it's any consolation to you, I read Baldrick's comment and I missed that it was supposed to be a parody of me

Okay, that's pretty funny.
38. Seaimpíní Domhan! (tfbg9) Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4575958)
Any post you see that includes the phrase "fair enough" is not going to turn out to be a parody of Andy.
39. Morty Causa Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4575963)
Humans like feats--they're obvious, easy to understand, and lend themselves to some sort of narrative. This is as opposed to mere accomplishment. Going four for four, hitting four homers in a game, hitting .400, breaking home run records, toughing it out playing a long string of games, climbing the wall to snatch a ball, consecutive errorless games, doing back-flips and cartwheels in the infield. Etc. Some are more indicative of value than others. That doesn't mean we can appreciate them as "feats".

40. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4575966)
The troll wins when you taint every other BBTF thread with your own version of his lunacy.
41.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4575993)
What I said was that the streak has no inherent value in and of itself. Which it doesn't. Which is a view held by a great many people.
42. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4575997)
I said it a while ago, but anytime on of these type of threads come up, this needs to be said:

"It's fun, that's what it is, it's fun. Baseball is more fun than anything else. You can watch it and just love it and enjoy it. I don't think that there's anything tremendously philosophical about it. I don't think there's anything metaphysical I just think its so much fun to watch." - Robert Creamer in Ken Burns "Baseball" Inning One.

Hitting streaks, cycles, and no hitters are fun. I love stats and realize that most of these achievements generally mean nothing (and it is of course always worth noting that Ted Williams's '41 was better that Joltin Joe's) but they are still fun little quirks of the sport.
43. Seaimpíní Domhan! (tfbg9) Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4575999)
Wilt had the real streak anyway.
44.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4576020)
hitting four homers in a game (as opposed to three)

Four HR is a very interesting list to me, from the perspective of "signature" events. It's a mix of absolute greats (Gehrig, Mays, Schmidt), highly cromulent sluggers (Klein, Hodges, Adcock, Colavito, Horner, Green, Delgado, Hamilton) … and guys that you just have to see as flukes, like Pat Seerey and Mark Whiten. (Mike Cameron is somewhere between cromulent and fluke.)

But that's probably because nobody's ever done it twice. When you get to the lists of guys with multiple 3-HR games, the leaders are wall-to-wall from the absolute-great and highly-cromulent ranks (including guys like Dave Kingman and Joe Carter, who may not have done much else of undying value, but could certainly hit some HRs).
45.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4576053)
Ray,

Just got your e-mail, but the edit function time limit had expired. Sorry that I'd forgotten you didn't want the D-name up there.
46. Seaimpíní Domhan! (tfbg9) Posted: October 17, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4576056)
Just got your e-mail, but the edit function time limit had expired. Sorry that I'd forgotten you didn't want the D-name up there.

Why not just email him back?
47.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4576072)
.
48. TJ Posted: October 17, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4576085)
Next week Hirsch will write basically the same article, just replacing "DiMaggio" with "Ripken" and "hit streak' with "consecutive game streak"...
49. The District Attorney Posted: October 17, 2013 at 01:46 PM (#4576094)
Next week Hirsch will write basically the same article, just replacing "DiMaggio" with "Ripken" and "hit streak' with "consecutive game streak"...
I'd agree with that one more :-P
50.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 01:53 PM (#4576103)
Just got your e-mail, but the edit function time limit had expired. Sorry that I'd forgotten you didn't want the D-name up there.

Why not just email him back?

I did, but not everyone checks their e-mails that often, which is why I didn't get his request in time to honor it. But thanks for your concern.
51. Seaimpíní Domhan! (tfbg9) Posted: October 17, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4576127)
No problem Oldtimer. Back to back Matlock's tonight at 10 and 11 on INSP. Maybe you can stay awake for the first one.
52.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 02:31 PM (#4576138)
I think nothing would be more entertaining as a baseball fan than if someone made a serious run at DiMaggio's mark. Each night, MLB Network would be going live to each at bat of the Clipper Chaser, with the tension building as his oh-fer grows.

Oh, no question. I'd go beyond the MLB Network. It would at least be ESPN and CNN, too, and I still think one or more actual networks though I'm marginally less confident about that than when I first wrote such a few years back.

So, let's see -- We have to focus on the fun and only the fun when Yasiel Puig poses and preens instead of runs in a playoff game, but we can't have any fun with hitting streaks because, hey, Mario Mendoza had 74 hits in 1979 and it was only bad luck that they didn't come in 57 straight games.

Um, yeah.

53.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 02:38 PM (#4576145)
What I said was that the streak has no inherent value in and of itself. Which it doesn't.

Except it does -- it provides fun, joy, and excitement to baseball fans, non-baseball fans, and the American and world sport cultures.

Which is a view held by a great many people.

No -- It's a constipated view held by a small rump of cranks, freaks, weirdos, hippies, and assorted lawyers. And likely some Communists.
54.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4576154)
No problem Oldtimer. Back to back Matlock's tonight at 10 and 11 on INSP.

Don't keep up with that modern crap. After the game tonight it's straight onto a stolen DVD of Nightmare Alley in order to keep up with the latest carny tricks.
55. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: October 17, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4576170)
When you get to the lists of guys with multiple 3-HR games, the leaders are wall-to-wall from the absolute-great and highly-cromulent ranks (including guys like Dave Kingman and Joe Carter, who may not have done much else of undying value, but could certainly hit some HRs).

It's a real shame Patek only did it once (years ago someone once claimed that this was the most statistically improbable actual event in all baseball history
56. SandyRiver Posted: October 17, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4576180)
Four HR is a very interesting list to me, from the perspective of "signature" events. It's a mix of absolute greats (Gehrig, Mays, Schmidt), highly cromulent sluggers (Klein, Hodges, Adcock, Colavito, Horner, Green, Delgado, Hamilton) … and guys that you just have to see as flukes, like Pat Seerey and Mark Whiten. (Mike Cameron is somewhere between cromulent and fluke.)

I've always looked at 4-hr games as similar in frequency to perfect games, at least up until about 15 yr ago when PGs became more frequent. (Actually, the trend started with Larsen - his was the first in 34 yr and only the 4th since 1900. 17 more since that one, 5 in the past 4 seasons.) And PGs seem even more flukey, with two by inner circlers (Young, RJ - I put Koufax in the middle range), 4 more HOF though Catfish, Joss and Bunning have their critics, and then a fairly even mix of very good - or better, Halliday and King Felix - and journeymen. Like the 4-bombers, no one's done it twice.

My "value" thoughts mirror SBB's in #53. In terms of increasing team wins, the streak probably has about the same value as any 56-game stretch of (approx) 210 OPS+ would've that year. However, the fans pay the bills and the media excites those bill-paying fans, so added excitement in those corners certainly does add "value".
57. Good cripple hitter Posted: October 17, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4576216)
Don't keep up with that modern crap. After the game tonight it's straight onto a stolen DVD of Nightmare Alley in order to keep up with the latest carny tricks.

I'm surprised you didn't just record it off TCM last night. I watched it because the title made me think it was part of their series of Halloween movies, but it was great. Would've been better if they'd removed the last two minutes of the movie, but it's still a fantastic movie.
58.  Posted: October 17, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4576246)
59. Russ Posted: October 18, 2013 at 05:48 AM (#4576632)
Comparing the standard deviations here is a pretty big mistake here. There is no reason to expect the number of hits to have a distribution whose mean is independent of the spread (or std deviation). For example, we know that this happens with the normal (you can change the mean without changing the spread), but it doesn't happen with the Poisson (whose variance is equal to a mean). The number of hits in a game is more likely to be an over-dispersed Poisson. For the Poisson, your data will be more variable if you have a higher batting average because 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 all become plausible values for the number of hits -- if your BAVG is low, then you're only going to be getting 0's and 1's for the most part). So the higher expected number of hits, the higher the variance. However, there is no reason to believe that the expected number of hits each game will be the same -- different pitcher, different opponent, different park, different fatigue levels, etc. So this adds variability on top of that due to the mean.

The better comparison would have been to use the coeffiicent of variation, which is the standard deviation divided by the mean, i.e. the standard variation as a the percentage of the average. If you do this, DiMaggio's coefficient of variation (CV) was 0.55, i.e. his standard deviation was 55% of his mean value. For Williams it was 0.75 and for Escobar it was 0.97. So DiMaggio's observed coefficient of variation is lower... I don't feel like finding the data to get confidence intervals, but certainly the way the data is presented in the article is not as meaningful as the author implies.
60.  Posted: October 18, 2013 at 06:49 AM (#4576642)
Don't keep up with that modern crap. After the game tonight it's straight onto a stolen DVD of Nightmare Alley in order to keep up with the latest carny tricks.

I'm surprised you didn't just record it off TCM last night. I watched it because the title made me think it was part of their series of Halloween movies, but it was great. Would've been better if they'd removed the last two minutes of the movie, but it's still a fantastic movie.

I did record it Wednesday night, and watched it again. One of my half dozen or so favorite noirs, and far and away Tyrone Power's best role after all those stupid "swashbuckler" movies that are little more than Stallone and Schwarzenegger minus the late 20th century technology.

The ending: Yeah, obviously it was tacked on because of the studio's fears of the Breen boys in the censor's booth, but compared to hundreds of other "shotgun wedding" type endings in the 30's and 40's movies, it wasn't really that contrived. And was Helen Walker an evil dame or what?

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