Quiz – Name these Groups (Solved)

What separates these two groups of hitters, besides their stats?

2010-14 BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ BAbip SO% WAR* oWAR* dWAR*
Group A .259 .327 .412 .739 102.7 .304 19.4% 2.30 2.27 -0.10
Group B .268 .329 .414 .743 103.9 .304 16.4% 2.66 2.58 0.19

 

These groups cover all non-pitchers with 500+ plate appearances over the last five years. Each group has over 140 players, totaling more than 200,000 PAs. Group OPS+ is weighted by playing time. The WAR figures are rates per 650 PAs; the ratio between the groups would be about the same if expressed per 162 games.

Assignment to Group A or Group B was not based on any baseball statistic. What was it based on?

Here are their counting stats, per 650 PAs:

2010-14 AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS
Group A 581 76 150 30 3 17 72 55 4 126 6 3 5 13 11 4
Group B 586 73 157 30 3 16 72 51 5 107 5 4 5 15 11 4

 

To round out the picture, here’s a quick look at the pitchers, divided on the same basis:

2010-14 ERA+ OPS+ SO% WAR*
Group A 106.2 97.8 19.3% 2.09
Group B 108.2 95.9 20.3% 2.21

This is all pitchers with 100+ innings over the last five years. Each group has over 140 pitchers, totaling more than 40,000 innings. Group ERA+ and OPS+ are weighted by playing time. WAR is the rate per 200 innings.

__________

Congratulations to Joseph, who determined that Group A is players born in the United States,* and Group B is those born elsewhere.

This quiz grew from wanting to check the old chestnut that “you don’t walk off the island.” Of course, not all foreign-born players hail from the Caribbean area. But more than half of the foreign-born hitters in this study came from Caribbean Islands, mainly the Dominican Republic (46), Cuba (13) and Puerto Rico (13).* And most of the rest came from countries on the Caribbean — Venezuela (48), Colombia (3), Panama (3), Mexico and Nicaragua (1 each).

Anyway … The recent data do show a slightly lower walk rate among foreign-born hitters. But there are even bigger differences:

  • Strikeout rate is much lower among the foreign-born — 16.4% vs. 19.4%, a margin of almost 20 Ks per 650 PAs — leading to a 9-point edge in BA despite the same BAbip. Their gains via contact more than offset the lower walk rate, and came with very little loss in the power departments: U.S.-born players averaged one extra home run per 650 PAs, while doubles and triples were even.
    Overall, the foreign-born hitters had a slight edge in OBP and slugging, driven by BA. The rest of the season rates are extremely close.
  • Foreign-born players had more defensive value, with an edge of about 0.3 dWAR per 650 PAs, accounting for almost all of their overall edge in WAR. This could be from actual skill, or from a higher concentration at the more valuable defensive positions. It doesn’t seem to be age-related, as the unweighted average of both groups is just under 29.

Foreign-born pitchers had a higher strikeout rate, although by a smaller margin (20.3% vs. 19.3%). This might grow out of their developing years: Since a certain degree of strikeout skill is needed for success, foreign-born pitchers might have had to hone this skill more sharply because they faced hitters who make more contact.

Finally, here’s a longer view of the hitters, covering 1995-2014 and all those with 300+ PAs:

1995-2014 BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ BAbip SO% WAR* oWAR* dWAR*
U.S.-born* .267 .339 .427 .766 101.4 .304 17.2% 2.17 2.14 -0.08
Foreign-born .272 .335 .427 .762 100.6 .304 15.8% 2.31 2.28 0.15

WAR figures above are per 650 PAs, as are the following:

1995-2014 AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS
U.S.-born* 577 81 154 31 3 18 77 59 4 112 6 3 5 13 11 4
Foreign-born 583 80 159 31 3 18 77 52 5 103 5 4 5 14 11 5

A similar picture on strikeouts and value, but milder.

And now we throw the floor open to comments.

_____

* Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth whose people are U.S. citizens. But it’s treated as non-U.S. by my data source, Baseball-Reference.com, and there is some logic behind that. No slight is intended.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
17 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul
7 years ago

Just a guess: Group A is visiting team, Group B is home team.

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

Group A is younger than Group B? (Say, minus/plus age 30?)

David P
David P
7 years ago

Date of birth? Jan-June vs July-Dec.

Brendan Bingham
Brendan Bingham
7 years ago

Right-handed vs left-handed? If so, I’m guessing Group A is the righties.

Joseph
Joseph
7 years ago

Born in the USA vs. born someplace else?

Joseph
Joseph
7 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

It was a total guess–playing a hunch.

Joe
Joe
7 years ago

The difference in dWAR is almost entirely due to higher concentrations at more valuable positions. oWAR + dWAR – WAR = positional adjustment. When you subtract the positional adjustment from dWAR you get about the same Rfield numbers for both groups. Alternatively, WAR – oWAR tells you the same thing.

Hartvig
Hartvig
7 years ago

I’m a little surprised there isn’t much difference in the walk rates. Back in the day when Alfredo Griffin, Ozzie Guillen and Damaso Garcia were playing you heard a lot about “Nobody ever walked off an island”…

Artie Z
Artie Z
7 years ago

I wonder how recent the change is (if the old adage about not walking off of an island was ever true), or if the 2010-2014 is just an odd cut of the data. Looking at the league leaders in walks, from 2010-2014 I see the following foreign born players at the top of one of the two leagues (just looking at the #1 player in each league): Votto (twice), Bautista, and Carlos Santana. Other than David Ortiz (2006-2007), I don’t think any other foreign born player has ever led either league in walks (maybe there is another Canadian player in… Read more »

Artie Z
Artie Z
7 years ago
Reply to  Artie Z

Tabbed to the submit button too soon.

Given that there is a “bigger” difference in walks between 1995-2014 (7 walks between the two groups) and 2010-2014 (4 walks between the two groups), it appears that the difference is shrinking over time (because the 1995-2014 data include the 2010-2014 data). How difficult is it to run the numbers for just 1995-1999?

LouBrockisaHOFer
7 years ago

Mexico is not part of the Caribbean http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribbean