Remember baseball in 1998? I sure do. There’s all that stuff about America falling in love with baseball again. I’m not sure how true it is, but if it’s a lie, it’s an awfully fun one in which a couple of sluggers are tasked with reinvigorating Americans’ love of their national pastime following the bad taste left by the player strike four years earlier. Playing the roles of dual protagonists, of course, were Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, making their run at Roger Maris‘s single-season home run record. But that’s an NL story. We’re here to talk about the American League. And in the American League in 1998, the big story was all about one team: the New York Yankees.
That’s pitches, not pitchers! In the never-ending cat-and-mouse game between pitcher and hitter, the pitcher’s biggest advantage is choosing the type of pitch to throw to different batters in different situations. Fangraphs provides summary data from PitchFX, the system employed by MLB to track every pitch thrown in every game. Included are data on the success of each hitter against different types of pitches. Those data for the 2016 season are after the jump.
In addition to keeping High Heat Stats up and running, some of us are also contributing content at Hero Habit (http://www.herohabit.com/) now. You can find articles simillar to the ones that get posted here over on that site, such as an article by Ely about Scott Boras and the Nationals or a series of posts of some of my favorite baseball cards. Please check out the site and feel free to comment!
The National League in 1997 was an interesting bird. The second-best team was the Florida Marlins, who won the wild card. The best team was the Braves – just as they had been in 1996, and 1995, (1994 was the strike year,) and 1993, and 1992, and 1991. And they would be again in 1998, and in 1999. The ’90s were their party, alright. Too bad it didn’t work out for them in the World Series department. Anyway, one of the oddest things about the 1997 NL is just how balanced it was; only 3 of the 14 teams were more than 5 games under .500. And of course, this was the middle of Selig-ball.
Incidentally, 1997 was probably the first season that I followed really heavily from start to finish. I had been following the AL from before the strike, at least a little. But, in the Brewers final year in the AL, I thought it was about time to start checking out the competition. And, of course, with 1997 being the advent of inter-league play, it was the perfect time to start learning. It was also convenient, for the purposes of this post, that I remember bits and pieces of this year. But, because we’re in the heart of Selig-ball, just remember that the numbers are going to be a LOT bigger all of a sudden, both for position players and pitchers. May your eyes adjust well! Continue reading
In their 2007 work “The Book” (as in “Managing by …”), Tango, Lichtman and Dolphin used hard statistical analysis to debunk any number of notional ideas about baseball players and teams, among them that certain players are “clutch” performers. Their analysis indicated that whatever clutch tendencies players might exhibit in a given season would “correct” over time such that performance levels over a career would be much the same in “clutch” situations as in any other.
But, that doesn’t stop us from looking at those one-season tendencies, which I’ll explore next in looking at the players (like the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado to the left) who were best in the clutch in the 2016 season. Continue reading
This quiz involves eight players, all but one of which were active in the past 30 years. Yet they are only players in majors history to retire with a certain career accomplishment. What is it?
Seems I’ve managed to stump the HHS panel. The quiz answer is that only these players recorded a 3000 PA career having 45% of hits go for extra bases, and with doubles comprising 45% of extra-base hits. More after the jump. Continue reading
This time, we examine the National League of 1986. I’ll get to the pennant race (which I normally start with) in a moment, but I want to begin by saying something about the MVP voting of 1986. This was the year of the aging player. The vast majority of the players who show up here were stars already in the late-1970s, yet hung around long enough to still be in play in 1986. And, to their good fortune, when some of them had a resurgence, the NL was weak enough that their good-but-not-great performances were enough to stand out.
The second-place teams in each league won 86 in ’86, which I guess would’ve been fine if the division winners hadn’t won 96 and 108 games. There was no race to speak of in either division, with the Astros pulling away in late July and the Mets having the division sewn up by May Day, by which point they already had a 5-game lead after having taken over first place for good on April 22nd. The Mets finished the season with 108 wins – matching the ’75 Reds with a number that hadn’t been seen in the NL since the 1909 Pirates! To this day, only those Pirates and the 1906 Cubs have won more games in the National League than the 1986 Mets. Continue reading
Remember how I seemed obsessed with the National League in the 1960s? Well, the American League in the 1980s was undoubtedly even more confusing. Today’s target is 1985.
1985 featured a rarity – two good division races in one league. Following a three-game sweep on the road to the Tigers, Toronto led the AL East by 3 with three to play… against the 2nd place Yankees. The Yanks took the first, and a Yankee sweep would win the division. Of course, Toronto won game #161 to wrap things up, but that’s nearly down to the wire. In the West, with seven to play, the Royals trailed the Angels by a game, but were ready to face the division leaders in a four-gamer in Kansas City. The Royals took three out of four to go up two games, entering a weekend homestand against Oakland. Simply taking two games from the A’s would win the division… which they promptly did, wrapping everything up in game #161. But hey – both divisions were in play on the penultimate day of the season, so that’s not so bad.