Category Archives: Baseball

Some stats related MLB and MiLB info – often related to Blue Jays

MLB Pitcher Values

Not the start Blue Jays fans were looking for. With a 6-9 record at the time of publication they already trail Boston (led by reviled ex-BJ manager, John Farrell) by 4.5 games.

The batting has been particularly anemic but the pitching – particularly the starting rotation – has also been a concern

I have whipped up a Shiny App comparing Salary and WAR (Wins above Replacement) for each MLB team over the past couple of years. I will extend the coverage in due course

Here are the BJ results to date.


Josh Johnson ($13.75m) and Mark Buehrle ($11m) have the highest salaries

Are knuckleballers more volatile?

For years, the Blue Jays have been also-rans in the AL East but splashed out this season turning prospects into established stars in the hope of reaching the World Series

Seven games in and the 2-5 start has the perennial doubts resurfacing, particularly as none of the much-vaunted starters has yet to pitch a seventh inning

Knuckleballer and 2012 NL Cy Young winner has had two outings. The first was memorable for a darting knuckleball leading to a BJ record of three passed balls. In the second, less movement led to home runs and a pretty dismal outcome. One suggestion has been that it is particularly early to draw any conclusions as knuckle ballers are by nature more prone to variability in their performance

One way of assessing this is to look at the pitcher’s game score – a swift method of comparing outings based on innings pitched, strikeouts, hits allowed etc.

Here is a graph depicting each of Dickeys career starts. Size of dot refers to innings pitched and colour denotes game outcome


As can be seen, his first start this year was mediocre but the second was the worst since the 2008 season ( He only made one start in 2009)

Dickey appears to be a laid-back guy but is he by nature more volatile in performance? Of course, as he is now the only knuckleballer in the MLB little can be done to generalize but here is a box-plot comparing his 2012 starts with other leading pitchers: the group comprises the top three in last year’s CY Young voting for each league.

Not a lot to see there. Dickey’s variance was the second greatest but with no statistical significance perceived. Weaver managed two horrific outings, the better of which resulted in 8 earned runs with 10 outs

There is a Shiny App under development to view other pitchers, although there are some teething problems with 2013 data

Snider SSSS

On July 24th 2012, Travis Snider simultaneously lifted both a ball from Travis Blackley out of the park and his batting average for the year to more than .400
Did this mean that the much heralded prospect had finally arrived at 24 after several years of teasing.?
Well… not exactly as he was only batting in his fourth game following a callup from AAA
However, this did not stop hopeful fans from predicting that hitting in each game with homers in the latter two heralded a new dawn

This suggested that it might be fun to look at whether Snider had ever previously performed at this level over the Stupidly Small Sample Size of four consecutive games. For this crude exercise I have extracted data from the Baseball reference site for all games in which Snider has had at least two plate appearances and calculated the average OPS (a measure of hitting ability) over each four game run. Here is a graph showing his general disappointing lack of progress

The latest value of 1.15 does rank pretty highly (24th out of the 218 non-independent readings) but is well shy of the 1.64 he achieved at the tail end of the 2010 campaign when he posted 9 hits, including 3 home runs, in 18 at-bats.

Obviously, this is a trivial example but the effort is easily generalized to any player for any number of games.

Has the bubble burst? Following the aforemntioned home run, he went nine unproductive at bats before a surprisingly successful bunt and a double. Perhaps more concerning is that at the time of writing he has two strikeouts in five consecutive games for the first time in the majors

Pujols drought

With my team, the Blue Jays, in town, I fully expected Albert Pujols to end his drought immediately and strike his first Home Run for the Angels. However, Brendan Morrow put on a masterful display and Pujols was reduced to showing his skill in a nifty double play

In regular season games, Pujols has now gone 32 games withought bothering the bleachers – the worst run of his career


Well of course, by the end of the series, Pujols – after a rest day – finally delivered. However, it does ensure that the graph is up to date in it’s main feature for some time

He has hit in consecutive games 97 times in his illustrious career and, interestingly, has droughts for every number in the range one to twenty-two. The previous outlier of 27 games was as recent as April/May last season so it will be intriguing to see if this pattern continues next year

The recent power outage also included only his second ever five game hitless streak, with the only previous occurrence at the tail end of his debut season of 2001.

With only 20 hits in 23 games, his rate of hitting in April was also the lowest monthly rate of any of the 67 months in which he has recorded at least 10 appearances

He has only failed to record a mean of less than a hit per game on three other occasions. At the other end of the scale, he recorded 51 hits in June 2003 and had a spell of 57 between 29 May and 29 June

Some Blue Jay starter history

The new baseball season is nigh and hopes are sky-high

Well at least for the Toronto Blue Jay’s there is some optimism although seasons 2013 onwards are much more likely to see them in the playoffs. This year, the offence – with full campaigns from Lawrie, Johnson and Rasmus – should be improved and the overhauled bullpen will almost certainly be better.

But the rotation has the feeling of “Romero and Morrow. Oh sheesh it’s tomorrow”. McGowan (yet another injury) and Cecil (yet another decline in velocity) are already lost from the starting five and the young guns are not yet ready to compete at the ML level

Let’s look at some history

162 games except: 1981, 106; 1994 115; 1995 144 – * indicates lefty

The first table shows the number of starters used including who led the team and brought up the rear for each season. Also shown is the games commenced by the five most used starters. The last stat peaked in 1984 when the BJ’s ran a four man rotation, with Clancy, Steib, Alexander and Leal all starting at least 35 games – something no Blue Jay has done in the past eight seasons
Halladay has headed the rotation in terms of starts the most times (5) but during some of their strongest seasons 1987-1993 there were seven different game leaders. Indeed, until Guzman, in strike-shortened 1994, no player had repeated as the head of this category.

One relationship where there could be a correlation is between number of starts by the leading five players and win percetage. I have excluded the three strike-effect seasons

The graph shows some correlation, but without knowing the history in detail it is difficult to determine if the enforced use of more starters led to a lower win percentage or if poor performance led to more starters being used as the season progressed. However, if you can coax more than 135 starts out of five guys then you should at least reach the 81-81 mark

Unlike the slight, if any, increase in number of starters used over time, the final table does show a significant reduction in the number of complete games

In this category, Dave Stieb is the clear leader with 103 completions – accounting for more than a quarter of his starts. His record of 19 in 1982 is as many as the whole rotation has put up in a single year since 1985. Halladay is third on the list and his 17% conversion would likely have been at Steib’s level if he had pitched in that era