For the full High Heat Stats experience:

HOF position players and other standouts, by decade

This post looks at the distribution of standout position players across decades, both Hall of Famers and others. The seed was birtelcom’s recent “Hall of Famers by Final Year in the Majors,” and more precisely, from an exchange we had in those comments, which I’ll summarize (with apology for any loss of context to birtelcom’s quote):

  • John: The number of teams has grown from 16 to 30 since 1961, so you’d expect eventually to see more HOFers per decade in the post-expansion era.
  • Birtelcom: Just because you have more teams doesn’t necessarily mean you get more of the greatest players.

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The Top 50 Pitchers Since 1950

Who are the best starting pitchers of the past 60+ years? One way to answer that question is using RE24, the measure of how much a pitcher reduces his opponent’s’ run expectancy with each batter faced.

Starting from each of the 24 base-out states (ranging from nobody on, nobody out to to bases loaded, two out), there is an expected number of runs a team will score in the remainder of that inning, based on average hitters facing average pitchers. With the result of each plate appearance, a pitcher is credited with the resulting change in run expectancy (which can be positive or negative) less any runs allowed.

RE24, then, tells you how many runs a pitcher saved or cost his team relative to the average pitcher in the same base-out situations. Over the course of a career, the batters each pitcher faces will collectively approximate an average batter, allowing some reasonable basis for comparing different pitchers (with the possibly large caveat that RE24 does not adjust for park factors, team defense or other factors).

After the jump, the top 50 since 1950.

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On Underrated and Overrated Players

There’s been some recent discussion in comments on these pages, particularly those involving the Circle of Greats, about underrated and overrated players.  I don’t consider myself any more qualified to determine how individual players are “rated” than anyone else, but a few years ago on my personal blog, I tried to take an objective approach to this question.  I concluded that, from 2009 through early 2011, Michael Bourn was the game’s most underrated player and Carlos Lee was its most overrated.

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Quiz – Pop Gun Hitters (stumped)

All of these players are well known singles hitters. But, among all power-starved batters to play their entire careers since 1901, what career accomplishment distinguishes these retired players?

Bonus: Who is the one active player on pace to join this group?

Howard got the bonus question, and Richard Chester was most of the way there with the solution. But they didn’t quite put all the pieces together. The solution is after the jump.

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Quantum Leaf

Hey, remember me? I own this joint :)

Now that the season’s over and I’m mostly done with our commitments to USA Today Sports, I’ve been working on a side project that I expect a lot of you will enjoy–Quantum Leaf.

It’s a game for 1 to 4 players that uses a single tessellating shape–a leaf–to tile a surface. I’ve developed prototypes and will be running a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014 to roll out the product version.

Click on the image above to check out the game. Over on the Quantum Leaf site, to can submit your email address if you want to be updated on when our Kickstarter launches.

The Rundown: Minnesota Aims for the Middle

The pitching staff for the 2013 Minnesota Twins was positively abysmal a year ago. As a collective, the Twinkies ranked dead last in strikeout rate while simultaneously allowing their opponent’s to rack up more hits than any other staff in the league.

Things were so ugly a year ago that 10 different pitchers made at least 8 starts for Minnesota and just 2 of those 10 finished the season with a sub-4.00 ERA. Twins GM Terry Ryan knows that’s not a recipe for success, which is why he spent most of last week spending upwards of $70 million to shore up his rotation, adding veteran righties Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. The real question is, does that $73 million get the Twins any closer to an AL Central title? Read the rest of this entry

Miggy at mid-career

This past season, Miguel Cabrera turned 30 and passed the 350 home run and 1200 RBI milestones, while maintaining a career OPS+ above 150. Only four other players have done the same.

Player HR RBI OPS+ WAR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Jimmie Foxx 429 1520 169 79.7 1925 1938 17-30 1710 7293 6116 1355 2049 346 102 1104 935 .335 .437 .635 1.073
2 Albert Pujols 408 1230 172 81.0 2001 2010 21-30 1558 6782 5733 1186 1900 426 15 914 646 .331 .426 .624 1.050
3 Mel Ott 369 1386 158 80.2 1926 1939 17-30 1864 7808 6544 1332 2061 359 63 1135 566 .315 .419 .558 .977
4 Hank Aaron 366 1216 157 80.0 1954 1964 20-30 1656 7216 6510 1180 2085 351 79 603 655 .320 .376 .567 .943
5 Miguel Cabrera 365 1260 154 54.7 2003 2013 20-30 1660 7126 6218 1064 1995 412 14 799 1201 .321 .399 .568 .967
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/2/2013.

After the jump, more on Cabrera and what might lie ahead for him.

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Quiz – Expansion Era All-Stars (solved)

All of these players are All-Stars who received MVP votes at least once in their careers. Beyond that, they may not appear to share many similarities. Yet, among players to play their entire careers since 1961, these are the only hitters with a certain career accomplishment.

What is this unusual batting feat?

Congratulations to Richard Chester! He correctly identified that, among players who have played their entire careers since 1961, these are the only hitters with a career total for intentional walks more than 50% higher than their GIDP total.

More on this unusual batting quirk after the jump.

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Circle of Greats: 1938 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 38th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats.  This round adds to the ballot those players born in 1938.  Rules and lists are after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

COG 1939 Results: Yaz/No Question

Voters had no problem spelling Yastrzemski, or something close enough, to easily make Carl the 37th inductee into the Circle of Greats.  More on Yaz and the voting after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

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