Saturday, October 31, 2015

Countdown - 10 Greatest P's In Major Leagues History: 2-4

At #4 we have our all-time Cy Young leader with 7 - Keith Caldwell. From Seasons 21 through 28, only 1 season went by with Caldwell winning a CY somewhere (4 NL and 3 AL).  He also dominates the quality stats leaderboards like no one not named Rojas - 3rd in BA allowed, 2nd in OB% allowed, 2nd in Slugging % allowed, 2nd in WHIP, 2nd in ERA.

At #3 we have our sole reliever and longevity champ (still going strong at 40), Ramiro Goya.  The 5-time FOY winner is far and away our career saves leader (with 734, over 100 ahead of #2).  In the qualitative stats, he's #1 in WHIP, OBA allowed and K/BB, #3 in Slugging % Allowed and ERA, and #4 in BA Allowed.

At #2 we have the best pitcher of the modern era, Miguel Rojas.  He dominates the qualitative stats career leaderboards - tops in BA allowed, #3 on OBA allowed, #1 in Slugging allowed, #1 in ERA and #3 in WHIP.  All in a fairly pitcher-hostile ballpark.  The only possible knock on Rojas was that he wasn't a monster innings eater - he was usually in the 210's in IP - but his 276 wins is still #3 all-time.  Throw in 5 Cy Young's and he's a pretty unassailable #2.

Countdown - 10 Greatest P's In Major Leagues History: 5-7

At #'s 5-7 we have the big counting-stats guys.  Some of the key numbers: 6, 303, and 33...

At #7, we have 6-time Cy Young winner Vincenzo Smalley.  He's also #2 on the all-time wins list with 296.  Not quite the qualitative numbers of some higher on the list (he faced DH's in the AL for all but a few minutes of his career), he's had the longest period of dominance of any AL pitcher.

In at #6 is our all-time wins leader (303), Luis Contreras.  Although obviously a dominant pitcher, his claim to fame stems from his longevity - he's still our career leader in quality starts and strikeouts, and is #2 in shutouts.

At #5, we're getting into the territory of the guys who combine top counting stats with qualitative dominance.  At age 33, Tony Moya is already our career leader in shutouts (33), and is #5 all-time in WHIP and On-Base % Allowed.  With 4 Cy Youngs already, he seems a lock for 1 or 2 more.

Countdown - 10 Greatest P's In Major Leagues History: 8-10

Continuing with our history theme, we're counting down the 10 greatest pitchers and position players in Major Leagues' history.

Checking in at #10, we have the current 2-time defending AL Cy Young winner, Manuel Cano.  In addition to the 2 CY's, Cano has 6 All-Star appearances and has surged into the top 5 in career batting average allowed and career ERA.  Detractors point to Detroit's pitcher-friendly dimensions - it's a consideration, for sure, but his performance has been superior.  Style points note:  in 8 seasons his ERA has never been above 3.00.

At #9 we go back to a tougher pitching era and Bartolo Escobar.  Escobar dominated the AL from Seasons 9-13, winning the CY 4 times in those 5 years and baffling the sluggers of the day.  He wasn't a big innings guy, posting 2750 fro his career and usually around 200 per season.  But he was undoubtedly the top pitcher of the era immediately preceding Contreras and Rojas.

At #8, we have the NL equivalent of Escobar, Cesar Carrasquel.  No other pitcher dominated the NL during the pre-Long Normal era like Carrasquel.  He was more prolific than Escober, throwing nearly1000 more innings, and was more dominant in the qualitative stats.  And there was the glorious 4-straight CY stretch from seasons 5-8, when he averaged 20 wins and an ERA well under 3.  He may well have an argument for a higher ranking.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Major Leagues "Scoring Eras" from Wild West to Little Ice Age.

It's popular to think of "eras" in HBD as the lively-ball "Steroid Era" with its torrid offense, and the "Post-Steroid Period" with its ascendant pitching.

In most worlds, and certainly in Major Leagues, there have been more distinct periods than just 2 each with its own scoring characteristics.

In summary, there has been a long, steady downward trend in scoring, bringing HBD pretty close to actual MLB levels.

Here are the 5 pretty easily-distinguished "eras" in Major Leagues history (runs per team per season):

Seasons 1 and 2 - The Wild West:  teams averaged 847.5 runs per season.  Home runs galore.  Quite a few individual hitting records and the foundations of many career hitting records.

Seasons 3-8 - The Mini-Steroid: offense was still dominant, but there was clearly an adjustment, as scoring fell 4% to 814 runs per team per season.  There wasn't much season-to-season variance either - a high of 823 and a low of 806.

Seasons 9-13 - The Transition: biggest percentage drop between eras - scoring fell 6.5% to 761 per team per season.

Seasons 14-28 - The Long Normal: the longest period with a relatively static scoring environment, but still a big drop of 4.8% from the previous era, to 724.5.

Seasons 29-31 - The Little Ice Age (???): Seasons 29 and 30 were the 2 lowest-scoring seasons in league history at 686 and 695, so it was looking like we had entered another new era.  Season 31 recovered to 711 (the low end of Long Normal levels), so it's not totally clear that we've had another algo adjustment.  But the 3-year average of 697.3 is down another 3.75% from the Long Normal.