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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Statistically Speaking: Exactly how difficult is it to hit a baseball consistently?

Michael Frain takes a look at the correlation between “consistently high hitting streaks and consistently high batting averages”.

My simulator of choice is Diamond Mind Baseball, using the 1941 season disk with the factory settings. For this initial look, I ran the season 10 times on autoplay, and found some interesting trends. In nine of the ten season runs, Williams led the AL in batting average, each time surpassing the .400 mark (and one time surpassing the .500 mark, which would seem to qualify as an outlier statistic). In only one run did Williams finish second in hitting, and in that run he finished with a .388 mark (second to Cecil Travis’ .396 mark in that run).

In the long run, it appears that a batting average would seem to be fairly repeatable achievement - over the course of a 150+ game season, the batting average is a pretty good indication of expected performance.

The hitting streak, on the other hand, was a far livelier statistic. In each of the 10 season runs, the longest season streak ran from 22 (set by Williams himself) to 59 (a surprising mark set by the Tigers’ Rip Radcliff). Discounting that outlier statistic, the high marks ranged from 22 to 33 consecutive games with a hit.

Repoz Posted: June 09, 2007 at 03:18 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. catomi01 Posted: June 09, 2007 at 03:44 PM (#2398376)
so a simulation, based on his 1941 stats, says ted williams will probably hit 400? all the hail the revolution...viva la batting average
   2. Jeff K. Posted: June 09, 2007 at 03:57 PM (#2398379)
so a simulation, based on his 1941 stats, says ted williams will probably hit 400? all the hail the revolution...viva la batting average

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. The model for DMB (if I'm not mistaken) is based around approximating the actual stats. So of course the stats it puts out are close to the actual stats, most every time. If they weren't, the model would be broken.
   3. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: June 09, 2007 at 04:11 PM (#2398383)
So of course the stats it puts out are close to the actual stats, most every time.


Tell that to 1936 Danny McFayden.
   4. BDC Posted: June 09, 2007 at 04:24 PM (#2398388)
The hitting streak, on the other hand, was a far livelier statistic

In part, of course, because you can hit .406 but if you are likely to go 0-for-1 with three walks fairly often, as Williams did, you can kiss any long hitting streaks goodbye. Rip Radcliff figures as a more likely candidate to get a long streak: high-average player, didn't walk much. But wasn't nearly as good as DiMaggio, though. The guys who have put together 40+ game hitting streaks in the majors are mostly very, very good hitters. A player of Radcliff's modest-to-good abilities might reach 38 in real life (Jimmy Rollins) but not much beyond that. In real life the pitchers are going to be adjusting like crazy, trying to pick out his weaknesses. That's one thing that makes the DiMaggio streak so insane; DiMaggio kept counter-adjusting under the pressure.
   5. McCoy Posted: June 09, 2007 at 04:28 PM (#2398391)
That's one thing that makes the DiMaggio streak so insane; DiMaggio kept counter-adjusting under the pressure.

Well that and he got some favorable calls.
   6. KJOK Posted: June 09, 2007 at 05:01 PM (#2398407)
Diamond Mind is a great simulation game, but Diamond Mind doesn't 'know' that Ted William's 1941 Batting Average is an outlier, even for Ted Williams, so I don't really see this providing much in-site.
   7. catomi01 Posted: June 09, 2007 at 05:19 PM (#2398418)
a more interesting way of 'testing' would have been to take williams career line up to 1941, create a projection based on that, and his expected improvement/decline over the next seasons, and from there see how he would have faired in 1941...and even more interestingly, see how he would have done if the war hadn't interrupted things the next few years.
   8. WillYoung Posted: June 09, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2398430)
Red Lucas is a Diamond Mind god. That is all.
   9. The George Sherrill Selection Posted: June 09, 2007 at 06:38 PM (#2398457)
I'm going to pick up Ted Williams for my 1941 fantasy team.
   10. Swedish Chef Posted: June 09, 2007 at 06:46 PM (#2398461)
Assuming 4 AB/game, .350 hitter is (1-0.65^4)^40/(1-0.75^4)^40 = 1556 times more likely to have a 40-game streak than a .250 hitter.
   11. Dan Szymborski Posted: June 09, 2007 at 06:54 PM (#2398465)
<FONT SIZE=2>1941 ZiPS Projection - Ted Williams
----------------------------------------------------------------------
              AB   R    H  2B 3B  HR RBI  BB  SO  SB    BA   OBP   SLG  
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Projection   564 137  187  45 12  30 138 108  56   2  .332  .441  .613
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Opt. (15%)   582 162  206  52 15  37 174 126  49   3  .354  .471  .686
Pes. (15%)   489 102  153  34  8  20  94  82  53   0  .313  .413  .538
----------------------------------------------------------------------
</FONT>
   12. Swedish Chef Posted: June 09, 2007 at 06:59 PM (#2398468)
Steroids!
   13. AROM Posted: June 09, 2007 at 07:14 PM (#2398476)
For a retired player, sometimes you can use his career average as representative of his true talent. Not always, since player talent can change over a 20 year career, but Ted was amazingly consistent.

Take his prewar career average (.356), his prime (27-32) .340 and post Korea (.355) and there's not much change until 40-41 (.287), which is a bad age 40 season followed by a great age 41 season.
   14. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: June 09, 2007 at 09:07 PM (#2398542)
You know, I love Diamond Mind and all, but... this has exactly what to do with baseball?
   15. Jeff K. Posted: June 09, 2007 at 09:21 PM (#2398552)
You know, I love Diamond Mind and all, but... this has exactly what to do with baseball?

1) Uh, Diamond Mind is a baseball simulator, and this author is using it (however incorrectly) to determine the degree of correlation between high BA and hitting streaks? That's pretty baseball right there.

2) What's up with all the people asking what threads have to do with baseball lately? You want baseball and baseball only, go to THT or ESPN's baseball page. Primer has never, ever been solely about baseball.

(EDIT) I shouldn't say "ever". But in the 4-5 years I've been coming here, it hasn't.
   16. Dan Szymborski Posted: June 09, 2007 at 09:24 PM (#2398556)
I did an expanded version of the above for Ted for his war years over in the Oracle.
   17. G.W.O. Posted: June 10, 2007 at 09:06 AM (#2398993)
Uh, Diamond Mind is a baseball simulator, and this author is using it (however incorrectly) to determine the degree of correlation between high BA and hitting streaks? That's pretty baseball right there.
No. It's first year undergraduate probability, with the word "hit" replacing "Bernouilli trial".

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