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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

wezen-ball: Calculating Charlie Brown’s Wins, Losses, & Other Stats: Introduction

Yerkles! This is more involved than Linus Pauling’s orbital hybridisation theory!

There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, writers making moronic decisions in the Hall of Fame vote, and Charlie Brown’s baseball team getting trounced every summer.

For fifty years, Charlie Brown took the field with his makeshift ballclub - the piano playing Schroeder behind the plate, the apathetic Lucy in centerfield, the blanket-toting Linus at second, and Snoopy, the slobbery superstar, at shortstop - and took beating after beating. Finding themselves on the wrong side of scores like 123-0 and 93-0 on a regular basis, the Peanuts crew was just never the talented powerhouse that Charlie Brown hoped for. But boy did they try. Few managers, and few teams, would have the heart to go out there day-after-day against such odds, but Charlie Brown and his crew were forever optimistic. It was endearing.

But losing takes it toll - if not on Charlie Brown’s spirits then, at the very least, in the record books. After decades of losing and seemingly-countless knockdown line-drives up the middle (the first one came in 1963), the stats can’t look too favorably on Team Peanuts. However, save for a short time when Linus was also team statistician, no one has ever taken the time to compile their stats. Granted, they aren’t going to be pretty, but someone should find the answer to the questions: how many games did Charlie Brown’s team lose? how many did they win? how many times did Charlie Brown get knocked over by a line-drive?

Repoz Posted: January 12, 2010 at 01:30 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, history, sabermetrics

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   1. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: January 12, 2010 at 01:43 PM (#3435214)
Shouldn't the 1957 Charlie Brown team get credit for a forfeit win after the team walked away laughing without playing the game?
   2. Gamingboy Posted: January 12, 2010 at 01:54 PM (#3435221)
I actually tried to do something like this once! However, I utilized a book that collected all the Baseball-related strips. I can't remember it's name, although I probably have it around here somewhere. I remember that Cal Ripken wrote the introduction.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: January 12, 2010 at 02:15 PM (#3435244)
To be fair, Charlie often pitched to the score like Morris did.

So once he was down 60-0, he'd ease off the throttle to save his arm for the next game. SABR types never properly account for this.

P.S. I played Charlie in a 5th-grade Christmas play.
   4. Gamingboy Posted: January 12, 2010 at 02:20 PM (#3435251)
I wonder how Snoopy might have done had he had good hitters around around him...
   5. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: January 12, 2010 at 02:36 PM (#3435267)
Yes, but what was Roy Hobbs' OPS?
   6. philevans3154 Posted: January 12, 2010 at 02:48 PM (#3435272)
I look forward to playing Charlie Brown's team against the Kansas City Monarchs in next year's version of Strat-O-Matic.
   7. Swoboda is freedom Posted: January 12, 2010 at 02:53 PM (#3435279)
What was Charlie Brown's actual ERA? It must have been much lower than the RA, with all the bad fielders out there. Can we do a DIPS on him?
   8. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:18 PM (#3435299)
IIRC, Charlie Brown has a listing in the James/Neyer Guide to Pitchers which touts his winless record and slow fastball. Sidd Finch got a listing too.
   9. Adam B. Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:50 PM (#3435359)
Related: Baseball Bugs: Greatest Banned Player Ever, by Derek Zumsteg
   10. ajnrules Posted: January 12, 2010 at 04:46 PM (#3435442)
I never really understood how Charlie Brown's teams get into the championships even though they lose all of the games we see them play. It must be that Snoopy's 713 home runs through 1973 that helped them win those games we don't see them play in their championship-losing years of 1956, 1958, and 1963.
   11. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 12, 2010 at 04:49 PM (#3435451)
I never really understood how Charlie Brown's teams get into the championships even though they lose all of the games we see them play.
They follow the NHL playoff format.
   12. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 12, 2010 at 05:30 PM (#3435503)
Does the starting pitcher get a win if it's a forfeit?

Also, are we sure Charlie Brown was the starting pitcher? He might have been the mop-up man. The team wins 2/3 of its games, but if it's losing by more than five, it sends in Charlie Brown to give up ten dozen more.
   13. flournoy Posted: January 12, 2010 at 05:44 PM (#3435522)
Nah, Charlie Brown was definitely the starting pitcher.

Do we have MLEs for Joe Schlabotnik?
   14. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: January 12, 2010 at 05:48 PM (#3435526)
Charlie Brown gives up a lot of triples when Linus opts to use his blanket to catch fly balls.
   15. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:05 PM (#3435551)
I actually tried to do something like this once! However, I utilized a book that collected all the Baseball-related strips. I can't remember it's name, although I probably have it around here somewhere. I remember that Cal Ripken wrote the introduction.


Pretty sure it's "Who's On First, Charlie Brown?" I picked up a copy in Cooperstown a few years back... it's out on loan now. I'm a veritable library these days.

FWIW, Schroeder was a terrific catcher; it's not his fault Charlie Brown and most of the team's fielders were terrible. Without Schroeder's apt catching skills, it would have been much, much worse.
   16. lar @ wezen-ball Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:08 PM (#3435553)
@Gamingboy: it looks like that book you're talking about is "Who's on first, Charlie Brown". I've never seen it before, but it sounds like a good one to own. at 272 pages, I wonder if it really has every single baseball comic for 50 years. (272 pages * 3 comics/page = 816 comics; 816 / 50 = 16.32 --- there's almost certainly more than 16 strips per year involving baseball) It certainly has a lot, though, and probably covers every big baseball related series. Yes, definitely something worth checking out. I have "Sandlot Peanuts", but that was published in the '70s.

Charlie Brown gives up the first homer of the season (on the first pitch of the season) pretty often. He's definitely their starter.

The championship games... I think we have to chalk those up to the fluid reality that is a cartoon world.
   17. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:15 PM (#3435562)
It's entirely possible the Charlie Brown gang plays in a two team league.
   18. Ron Johnson Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:23 PM (#3435576)
#8

Charlie Brown 4'2" 87-pound righty

Theoretical Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball 2. Curve 3. Drop 4. Knuckleball

Actual Pitch Selection 1. Straight Ball 2. Straight Ball 3. Straight Ball 4. Straight Ball

Note: Brown gave up an unusual number of line drives up the middle.

Source: Sandlot Peanuts (Charles M. Schulz, 1977)
   19. Ron Johnson Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:26 PM (#3435581)
#16, there's also the weird structure of kids sports. I know that there are some pretty sad teams in the local kids hockey league and everybody gets a playoff game or two. Most tournaments guarantee 3 games.
   20. Gamingboy Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:36 PM (#3435589)
I kind of thought that the Peanuts gang always seemed to be in a "championship" as being a result of the fluid nature of Sandlot baseball. I remember how there was once a arc where the Peanuts team tried to join a "official" league (probably Little League Baseball), but Charlie Brown pulled the application when he found out he'd have to kick Snoopy and the Girls off the team (in a way, this might have been one of Schultz's subtle criticisms that abound through the Peanuts strip, in this case one of the exclusionary nature of organized youth sports).
Therefore, the "league" is likely run entirely by whatever kids show up at the field on any given day. It's likely that all those "championship" games are just the result of Charlie Brown getting his team to arrive fully, while all the other "teams" ahead of him (except the one they are going to play) were unable to get enough kids there due to chores, homework, etc.
   21. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:40 PM (#3435594)
"Tell your statistics to SHUT UP!" -- C.B.

At some point in Sandlot Peanuts, Schroeder comes out to the mound & runs through a whole bunch of signs, covering every kind of pitch you can think of ("Twelve fingers is a palm ball," etc.). That was my catalog of Possible Pitches, in those pre-Internet days. I remember spending hours & hours trying to figure out what a "knuckle curve" was, and how it would work, throwing a tennis ball off a wall next to my house.*

* I never did figure out how you'd throw a "knuckle curve" with a tennis ball.
   22. Don Malcolm Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:43 PM (#3435597)
Joe Schlabotnik was sent the minors one season after having gotten only one hit in 250 ABs. Charlie Brown, of course, thought that to be terribly unfair...
   23. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:51 PM (#3435609)
I wonder how Snoopy might have done had he had good hitters around around him...

At the dog park I take my dog to, there's often a pit bull there who, if baseball were played with tennis balls and didn't entail throws of any kind, could absolutely be a Gold Glove shortstop. She smothers everything regardless of how hard you throw it or what kind of hop it takes. Great range to both sides and, as best I can tell, off-the-charts makeup.
   24. Mr. Hotfoot Jackson (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:55 PM (#3435617)
It's entirely possible the Charlie Brown gang plays in a two team league.


I played in 3-team leagues when I was growing up. I'm pretty sure everybody made the postseason.
   25. lar @ wezen-ball Posted: January 12, 2010 at 06:59 PM (#3435622)
Someone just left a comment saying that every Peanuts strip is available on comics.com. What am I to do with myself now? I might get lost in there for months...

I meant to say this earlier but, if you only have time to read one of these, I highly recommend it be the 1960s one. There's much more interesting stuff going on during that time (Schulz was absolutely at his peak in the late-60s, early-70s). And, since it doesn't fit anywhere else, take a look at that lineup of cards Charlie Brown offers Lucy for her one Joe Shlabotnik card... quite the list.
   26. Dale Sams Posted: January 12, 2010 at 07:18 PM (#3435647)
I'll just throw all these snarks in one bowl.

You'd think Charlie Brown would have an advantage using a ball that looks straight out of 1905. Batted over a 100 times with Snoopy slobber all over it.

Schroder must have Carlton-Fisk like stamina to catch a game with a hundred runs.
   27. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 12, 2010 at 08:45 PM (#3435818)
This is one of the most enjoyable series of articles I've ever read...
   28. sptaylor Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:07 PM (#3435858)
Just for the record, orbital hybridization is dead easy. So easy, even a caveman can do it.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:15 PM (#3435878)
Schroder must have Carlton-Fisk like stamina to catch a game with a hundred runs.

Given how hittable Charlie Brown is he probably doesn't have to actually catch too many pitches. Charlie can probably give up 50 or 60 hits on 100 pitches.
   30. Sexy Lizard Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:22 PM (#3435891)
This is a great little series of articles. i'm very glad they got linked here.
   31. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:24 PM (#3435895)
Joe Schlabotnik was sent the minors one season after having gotten only one hit in 250 ABs. Charlie Brown, of course, thought that to be terribly unfair...

I think that establishes CB as a non-libertarian.
   32. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: January 12, 2010 at 09:28 PM (#3435902)
It must be that Snoopy's 713 home runs through 1973 that helped them win those games we don't see them play in their championship-losing years of 1956, 1958, and 1963.


Still one of my favorite strips of all time --

Snoopy on his doghouse, pile of hate mail towering next to it....

"Does the hatemail bother you?"

"Only when it falls on me."
   33. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:14 AM (#3436318)
"Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball THREE FEET higher?"
   34. CFiJ Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:26 AM (#3436321)
The "maze/Mays" one cracked me up.
   35. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 13, 2010 at 07:55 AM (#3436327)
Schroeder was the template for Crash Davis. He frequently calls time and saunters out to the mound just to tell Charlie Brown something either nonsensical or derogatory*, he's into the finer arts in his spare time, and women want him.

* One of my favorites featured Schroeder going out to the mound and saying:
<Schroeder> I don't understand it, Charlie Brown...
<Schroeder> I signaled for a fastball, and you threw a fastball, and the batter swung at it and missed...
<Schroeder> How did that happen?
   36. Lassus Posted: January 13, 2010 at 08:03 AM (#3436329)
I have not now, nor will I ever forgive Mark McGwire...

...for making me miss this thread.

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