US 20050227793 A1
A method of evaluating the effectiveness of a baseball player or group of players, considering offensive inputs such as at bats and batting, base running and advancing other base runners and other baseball performances. This method reduces the baseball player effectiveness to a single number, or average. This average would be kept and updated over a series of baseball player at-bats and used to compare to other performances, such as other series of at-bats, seasons, or other players, or teams.
1. A means of-evaluating the efforts of a baseball player, or group of baseball players, comprising of:
a. a numerator consisting of counting the bases advanced from the efforts of a particular offensive baseball player, or group of baseball players, which includes the bases reached by that particular offensive baseball player, or group of basebalI players, which usually is/are the batter/s, and adding to that any bases advanced by other offensive baseball players already on base which advanced because of the efforts of that one particular offensive player, or group of players, which again is/are usually the batter/s, and
b. a denominator consisting of the total official at-bats for the same period of time for which said numerator was recorded, and
c. dividing said numerator by said denominator whereby creating a number, an average, used to compare other offensive baseball performances, and, in combination,
d. at the discretion of the user, adjusting either said numerator, said denominator, and/or said average by other means to finely adjust said average by selecting from the group consisting of advantages or disadvantages of batting order, differences in ball parks, defensive fielding position, intentional walks, errors, sacrifices and/or any other function of baseball which may add to the accuracy and usefulness of said average.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates generally to a method, apparatus and system for determining player effectiveness in the game of baseball.
Traditionally, the professional game of baseball is played with a ball and a bat on a grass field with nine players on each of two teams of players. On the team playing defense, the field is comprised of three players in the outfield and six players in the infield. On the team playing offense, players take turn at home plate, with a bat, trying to advance to the bases which are spaced ninety feet apart and arranged in the shape of a diamond. The Pitcher on the team playing defense pitches the ball to one of the offensive players who is at bat at home plate. The offensive team is allowed three Outs per inning after which they will alternate to playing defense and the other team will play offense. One inning consists of each team playing one round of offense and defense. A game consists of nine innings unless there is a tie after which they may play for some form of tie breaker.
There are many variations on the game of baseball, for example, softball which is often played by the casual player and may have ten players on each side with four playing in the outfield. Another example is that is which is played by young players in which the bases are played at much closer distances than ninety feet.
Baseball began in the United States and is generally believed to have achieved its national beginning during the United States Civil War where young men from various parts of the country were introduced to a new and interesting game. Today, in the United States, baseball is played in most all grade schools, high schools, colleges and thirty-two major league professional teams which each have many minor league teams. Today, baseball is also played all over the world. Each of the thirty-two professional teams in the United States play 162 games each season, with multi-national players, and each team normally averaging one to three million fans attending games each year.
Team play of baseball keeps track of how the team plays by keeping statistics of each player, game, team and league. Many of the statistics kept for the game of baseball are as old as the game itself. Many of the statistics include simple events strung together in a series and then made into an average. The recording of these various single events has been used to evaluate the value, performance, effectiveness and/or desirability of individual players. Many different methods have been developed and used in an effort to better evaluate the value, performance, effectiveness and/or desirability of individual players. Among these are batting average, slugging percentage, and etc. Batting average, which may be the traditional most popular individual statistic kept may be in the normal range of about 0.230 to 0.300 although some players may play at higher or lower averages. Baseball insiders and authorities have often complained that the true value of a baseball player is not accurately evaluated with one or all of the statistics kept today. All players have a value that cannot be recorded by batting average alone or by reference to any other single number in use in baseball today. Even the reliance on a combination of several statistics can paint an erroneous picture of the true value, performance, effectiveness and/or desirability of a player.
3. Description of Prior Art:
In the past, since baseball is such an old sport, many different methods have been developed and used in an effort to evaluate the performance of baseball players. Much of the prior art is as old as the game itself with no known author or are simple, single dimensional recordings of a particular event, such as walks and steals. What has lived through time in evaluating the efforts of a player is most commonly batting average (first known recorded use in 1874), slugging percent, steals, walks, hits, runs, and runs batted in. In 1876, there were six offensive statistics kept for baseball and after more than one hundred years, there are now only about twenty-one statistics commonly kept for baseball (see Hidden Game of Baseball by Thorn and Palmer page 19). The game winning RBI is the only offensive statistic that has been added to the few offensive statistics in the last many decades. Most or all of these statistics can normally be found in the sports sections of newspapers during the baseball season. Over the past decades, many other methods have been developed and then discarded because they either did not prove to be easily enough computed, understood, or did not prove to be functional enough. No other method has been developed, to date, which considers all or most of the relative efforts of a baseball player into one number, especially when it relates to other players on base. Baseball insiders and authorities have often complained that the true value of a baseball player, to date, is not evaluated statistically. All players have a value that can not be recorded by batting average alone or any other single number in use in baseball today. Some players also have a special quality of being able to perform something extra when his/her team is in critical need of the extra effort (“coming through in the clutch”), especially when there are other offensive players on the bases. No other prior art has been able to capture all those efforts into one easy to compare statistic.
The most popular methods of prior art in evaluating offensive efforts of a baseball player are batting average, slugging percent, walks, steals and home runs (author many believe to be Henry Chadwick of England about 1868 or first recorded by him) (see Hidden Game of Baseball by Thom and Palmer page 10). Each of these methods are one dimensional in that they only record the specific act for which they are named. Batting average, probably the most popular method, simply records the number of safe hits in relation to official times at bat. Batting average does not consider hits for extra bases any differently or consider other runners on base. For example, with batting average, a home run would get the same emphasis as a single base hit although a home run is much more valuable. An arguably positive offensive action, sacrifice hit, which does advance a base runner but results in an out for the hitter, actually is a negative effect to batting average while being a positive effect on the advancement of runners on the base, sometimes resulting in a run. Walks simply record the number of times a batter advances to first by virtue of getting four balls before making an out. Steals only record the number of times a runner steals a base. Slugging percent does record extra bases from hitting for the batter but does not consider other runners or other means of advancing bases, such as walks or steals. Runs batted in is also one dimensional and only counts the number of players that cross home plate and score because of the efforts of one player. Other common statistics such as runs, hits, and errors also only record the one dimensional statistic for which they are named.
There are a few methods that have been developed that do evaluate bases advanced by the hitter, such as Base-Out Percentage (by Barry Codell and reported in Total Baseball, 1995, Glossary page 2544), Runs Created (by Bill James in the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, date unknown and reported in Total Baseball, 1995, Glossary page 2549), Total Average (by Tom Bosewell and reported in Total Baseball, 1995 Glossary page 2551), and Linear Weight (see Hidden Game of Baseball by Thorn and Palmer page 59). The major shortcomings of those methods are in not counting bases advanced of other players already on base when a particular player is batting.
The prior art of Base-Out Percentage (by Barry Codell and reported in Total Baseball, 1995, Glossary page 2544) does try to count many of the bases advanced by the hitter but does not consider all the other base runners. Base-Out Percentage also makes recording of that statistic very complicated by counting many things such as sacrifices in the numerator and denominator, grounded into double plays, and hit by pitch, among other things. Base Out Percentage uses outs produced for the denominator, as opposed to using official at bats as said method does. Again, the major short comings of this method is in not counting bases advanced of other players already on base when a particular player is batting.
One prior art, Runs Created (by Bill James as related in TOTAL BASEBALL, page 2549, date unknown) has, what seams to have been an effort towards counting for run contribution for a variety of offensive efforts by a baseball player. However, it does this by using probabilities for a certain action. For example, a double, which may lead to a run would have a certain probability of creating a run. Runs Created seams to have been created, mainly, to be able to compare modern games to historical games when statistics were not kept and rules were different. Runs Created has several versions, at least 14, to adjust the statistic for different years or leagues so as to compare current play to other years and leagues when baseball rules were different. Its creation was from the need to compare current statistics to historical seasons when as precise records were not kept. Runs Created does not actually count the bases advanced by other offensive base runners but only estimates them. Those estimates come from analyzing historical data. Those estimates are then applied only to the efforts of the batter. Runs Created and the following prior art are primarily concerned with estimating a scoring run through the actions of the batter, using the probabilities of a run happening from the analysis of historical data. Runs Created was used as an official statistic by the National League and the American League from 1955 to 1988.
Another prior art, Total Average (by Tom Bosewell and reported in Total Baseball, 1988, 1995 Glossary page 2551), again counts most of the offensive efforts of a baseball player as a batter but does not count the bases advanced by other offensive players. It then complicates the bases advanced by the batter by making several adjustments to both the numerator and denominator.
Another prior art, Linear Weights (see Hidden Game of Baseball by Thorn and Palmer page 62) is similar to the other, above, prior arts of Total Average, Runs Created, and Base Out Percentage in that it uses statistical methods to predict runs but refines the formulas further. Like the other modem prior arts, Linear Weights is very accurate at predicting runs but is also so complicated that it is not feasible for the casual observer, or even baseball professionals, to use.
The statistics kept for baseball really have not changed much in the past one hundred years and any change that has been made came very slowly. Much of the modern baseball statistics that have been offered (since Life magazine Aug. 2, 1954 article by Branch Ricky and Allan Roth) are consumed with predicting runs (which does, in fact, wins games) from the actions of the batter. The formulas are generally cumbersome and full of probabilities that a certain action will, ultimately over a long period of time, produce an expected number of runs. Their creation was primarily intended for forming strategy for a game by predicting the outcome of certain actions. Henceforth, most of the methods that have been developed for more precisely predicting and recording of baseball have been created since the Life magazine article of Branch and Rickey in 1954. Those methods are based on exhaustive research and the turning of baseball events into scientific probabilities in the hope of accurately predicting runs. Yet, those methods are only predicting runs and generally after a batter has reached first base. There is currently no other statistic or method in use which takes into account, in one number, several actual offensive inputs of a player and which, particularly, includes the advances of other players on base while also considering other situation dependent actions such as baseball park, batting order, or defensive playing position.
The present said method relates to a statistical method to reduce the many offensive performance statistics of a baseball player, dividing them by the number of official at bats, therefore, creating a single number which, then, may be adjusted for accuracy at the discretion of the user, by considering other baseball actions, a few of which may be batting position, defensive situations and the particular playing field, all in order to better evaluate the total effectiveness of a baseball player.
A main object of said method is to condense many of the offensive statistics into one simple number that can be easily computed and used to compare to other performances. This is accomplished by recording all of the official bases advanced from one base to the next, by any player, that can be attributed to the efforts of an offensive player and by also recording all of the official at bats for that same offensive player for the same period of time.
Said method overcomes the deficiencies of the many prior arts that have been tried and discarded over the decades in trying to create a simple numeric expression that evaluates the value of a baseball player. Said method also overcomes the deficiencies of all the currently used prior art by combining all or most of them into one, easy to compare number that is much more useful and informative.
It is an object of the present said method to provide one numeric expression that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a baseball player and be compared to other players, teams, and/or time periods.
It is another object of said method to provide an apparatus and method for the casual fan or observer to have the ability to keep and calculate the numeric expression him/herself. This can be accomplished by means of a traditional baseball scorecard that has been adjusted/changed to allow for the accumulation of the needed data and instructions for the use and calculations. See
It is yet another object of said method to allow for the adjustment of the basic numeric expression, which is also the preferred embodiment of said method, for factors such as home park advantage, place in batting order, defensive position and play, win/loss percentage of the team and other factors the user may feel is important to make the basic numeric expression of said method more meaningful.
In accordance with these and other objects of said method, which will become apparent hereinafter, the said method will be described with particular reference to the accompanying drawings and figures.
Said method, with preferred embodiment sometimes here-in-after referred to as Offensive Average, is a number that takes into account the offensive input for a baseball player and an average is made by dividing that input by the number of official at bats. The offensive input is calculated by adding each base advanced by any offensive player on the field (on base or home plate) that is attributed to the efforts of that one player, normally at bat. Said method is calculated by total offensive input (bases advanced) divided by the number of times a player has an official at bat. There may be several versions of said method depending on the preferred complexity of record keeping, accuracy, and the preferences of those using the statistic. Said method or the statistic, to be significant, should be kept for each official at bat for many games, and like batting average, is more significant as a predictor of future play as more games are played and statistics kept.
Said method is a single number and, unlike batting average, on base average or slugging percent, takes into account a complexity of many other baseball statistics. Said method inherently includes statistics such as batting average, walks, steals, sacrifices, hit by pitch, base on errors, any other way for a batter to get to a base, other players on base, and, incrementally and preferably, gives more weight to hits for extra bases.
Calculation and Use
Each time a player has an official at bat, a count is made of each base any player is advanced by the efforts of that one player's actions. The total count of bases advanced is divided by the total number of official at bats for the offensive average. In specific, counting bases advanced is as follows:
Because there are no other numbers, averages or group of numbers that take into account all of the actions of an offensive baseball player, it is nearly impossible, without the aid of video tape or a computer simulation, to go back and recalculate how said method would compare to historic games or seasons (at least not by using a traditional scorecard). Said method will create a number much higher than batting average and would be expected to be higher by a factor of more than 10 because of a grand slam, being the maximum number of 10.000 for said method while a batting average maximum is 1.000. Said method also takes into account many more offensive actions than does the straight batting average, thus making the value of said method more than just 10 times batting average. Other versions of the preferred embodiment of said method may omit or add attributed bases advanced for the reason of preference or simplicity, such as not counting intentional walks, passed balls and other advances, especially if they are not directly caused by the batter. Because of the mass and complexity of keeping the necessary statistics, it would be most easily kept with an electronic device or of a specifically designed scorecard such as
The preferred embodiment of said method is illustrated in
The numerator of
The Batters' Park Factor is as follows:
An example of the Batters' Park Factor in the prior art (as stated in the Glossary of Total Baseball by Thorn/Palmer/Gershin, 1995 page 2547-8) uses the statistics for the Atlanta Braves baseball season of 1982 and concludes with a Batters' Park Factor of 1.08 signifying Atlanta's ball park was easier to score in by a factor of 8 percent. Thus, a batter for the Atlanta Braves in 1982, in order to compare that batter with another batter from a different team, particularly in the same league, and has a Bases Advanced Average of 6.00 would have it adjusted by reducing it by 8% (or 1/1.08 or 0.926) for an adjusted Bases Advanced Average of 5.56.
The above adjustment, as with other adjustment stated here and elsewhere, may be made in different ways leading to small but significant differences in the resulting number. For example, it may seem to some, and with good reason, that the above adjustment would be more accurate if it were made by multiplying opposing players performances, while playing in Atlanta's ball park, by 1.08, as opposed to multiplying Atlanta's players by 1/1.08. That change would increase opposing players performances instead of decreasing Atlanta's' players performances. One caveat to the latter method of adjustment would be for players whose performance resulted in a zero. Multiplying any number by zero will still result in zero. If a player was expected to have an eight percent increase in performance but his performance resulted in an offensive average of zero, it would be very difficult to hypothesize what an 8 percent increase would have been. Many fly balls are caught at the wall and could easily have been a home run and there is yet no known science that could calculate how much more effort would be needed to then make it a home run. It is less likely, in this example, for a home team player to have an offensive average of zero, after an extended period of time, than for a visiting player. A home team player will have more opportunities at his/her home field than a visiting player. Strong arguments may be made for adjusting the numerator instead of the denominator and vice-a-versa. Which method is most accurate may be argued forever with each side of the argument based on personal preference. It is not the purpose of this application to determine which is best. The most important factor is consistency of calculation when comparing performances.
Another factor that may be of value in
From prior art “Clutch Hitting Index” (as stated in the Glossary of Total Baseball by Thorn/Palmer/Gershman, 1995 page 2545) the spot in the batting order is figured as 5−(9×BFPPG−BFPPGT) where BFPGP is the Batters Facing Pitcher Per Game for the player, or plate appearances divided by games, and BFPGT is the Batters Facing Pitcher per Game of the entire Team. Expected RBI are calculated as (0.25 singles+0.50 doubles+0.75 triples+1.75 homers)×LGAV×EXPSL where LGAV (league average)=league RBI divided by (0.25 singles+0.50 doubles+0.75 triples+1.75 homers), and EXPSL (expected RBI by slot number)=0.88 for the leadoff batter, and for the remaining slots, descending to ninth, 0.90, 0.98,1.08, 1.08, 1.04, 1.04,1.04, and 1.02. Calculated for teams, Clutch Hitting Index is actual runs scored over Batting Runs. Therefore to adjust for batting order, multiply
Thus, using the previous example above for the 1982 Atlanta Braves, the leadoff batter would have an adjustment for batting order of 1/0.90 or taking the Average Bases Advanced of 6.00, above, and multiply it by 1/0.90, or 1.11, we would get an adjusted Average Bases Advanced of 6.00 times 1.11 or 6.66. Taking that number and adjusting it further for Park Factor, above, would result in 6.00 times 1.11 times 0.926 for a further adjustment to 6.17 (6.00×1.11×0.926).
Another adjustment that may be desirable is that of adjusting for intentional walks. Arguably, one way for that adjustment would be to, first, determine whether the intentional walk was for the defense's fear of the batter or simply to place a runner at first to increase the probability of a double play. In the first instance, fear of the batter, the intentional walk may be treated just as any walk or base advance. In the latter instance, hopes of a double play, since the batter had no input other than being in the right spot at the right time, there may be a desire to not count the at-bat in either the numerator or denominator.
Yet another adjustment that may be desirable is that of adjusting for the rigors of playing more demanding defensive positions (prior art of Fielding Runs as stated in the Glossary of Total Baseball by Thom/Paimer/Gershman, 1995 page 2545). For second basemen, shortstops, and third basemen, the formula begins by calculating the league average for the position.
Assists are doubly weighted because more fielding skill is generally required to get an assist than to record a putout. For catchers, the above formula is modified by removing strikeouts from their formulas and subtracting not only errors but also passed balls divided by two. Also incorporated in the catcher's Fielding Runs is one tenth of the adjusted
Pitching Runs for the team, times the percentage of games behind the plate by that catcher. For pitchers, the above formula is modified to subtract individual pitcher strikeouts from the total number of potential outs (otherwise, exceptional strikeout pitchers like Nolan Ryan or Bob Feller would see their Fielding Runs artificially depressed). Also, pitchers' chances are weighted less than infielders' assists because a pitcher's style may produce fewer ground balls. Thus the formula for pitchers is 0.10(PO+2A−E+DP), whereas for second basemen, shortstops, and third basemen it is 0.20(PO+2A−E+DP). For first basemen, because putouts and double plays require so little skill in all but the odd case, these plays are eliminated, leaving only 0.20(2A E) in the numerator. For outfielders, the formula becomes 0.20(PO+4A−E+2DP). The weighting for assists is boosted here because a good outfielder can prevent runs through the threat of assists that are never made; for them, unlike infielders, the assist is essentially an elective play, like the stolen base. Outfielders' Fielding Runs were subject to some degree of error because outfielders sometimes switch fields within a game or season (Babe Ruth, for example, was positioned in the field that required the lesser range—right field in Yankee Stadium, left field in most road parks). Also, short distances to left-or right-field walls in some parks tend to depress putout totals
Other adjustments may be added to the numerator or denominator in order to facilitate a particular need. For example, a coach or manager or scout may want to multiply steals by a number larger than 1 in order to accentuate the statistics for players that are known to have a quality for stealing bases. In that manner, said statistic could be adjusted with an emphasis on steals and used to evaluate players in order to adjust the batting order of offensive players or in trading players. The total effectiveness of a baseball player may come closer if defensive errors are also included in an adjustment. An error in baseball is a fault in defensive play which allows an offensive player to advance to another base. One way to record a defensive error would be to subtract a base advance from the offensive performance of a player who made a defensive error.
Accordingly, the reader will see that the method of recording offensive average of said method can be used to evaluate the offensive performance of a baseball player. There is also opportunities to make adjustments for defensive play and, therefore, evaluate the total performance of a baseball player.
There are and have been many methods used in an effort to evaluate the performances of baseball players. Many of those methods are one dimensional in that they only record the performance of one aspect of baseball, such as walks and steals. Reporting of many of those one dimensional statistics try to give the observer an opportunity to evaluate the performance of a baseball player. The observer, by looking at batting average, runs batted in, slugging percent, walks, and steals can extrapolate a fair idea of how one player or team compares to another player or team. However, the observer is simply just extrapolating or making an educated guess.
Many of the modern methods of evaluating baseball have shown that traditional baseball statistics are not a very accurate means of evaluating performances. There is no other number, outside said method stated here, which combines all or most of the most widely used statistics into one easy to compare number for evaluating the performance of a baseball player.
An exert, below, from a newsprint sports page will show the volume of statistics needed to show how players performances are now, typically, evaluated (from the Tampa Tribune Jul. 4, 1999):
As one can see from the table above, it is difficult to compare and evaluate one player to another as they are currently reported. Anyone would have difficulty in deciding who was the best player from the table above. Cairo has the best batting average, which is now the most popular offensive statistic used. Martinez has the lowest batting average of the above table but has the highest value of runs batted in, which is a number that directly relates to scoring which is what wins games. Martinez also has a much higher total for base on balls which means he gives batters behind him a much better chance of driving a runner into home and also giving them an RBI, which is evident by the number of runs (times crossing home plate). Contrary to one's belief, now, that Martinez may be a better offensive player than Cairo is the statistic of more strike outs for Martinez. As one can see, the current methods of evaluating the offensive performances for a baseball player are difficult, confusing and not exact. Using said method for evaluating the offensive performance, as seen below, would combine many of those statistics into one, easy to compare value:
As can be seen from the table just above, the preferred embodiment of said method, Offensive Average, gives a much different evaluation of a baseball player than does Batting Average. Martinez, who would be judged by all but the most savvy baseball fans as being the worst player in the above traditional table, would actually be judged best with said method.
Inherent within the preferred embodiment of said method, Offensive Average, are many of the above statistics such as Batting Average, On Base Percentage, Runs, Hits, Doubles (2B), Triples (3B), Home Runs, Runs Batted In, Base on Balls, Strike Outs, Stolen Bases, and, possibly, Caught Stealing. The only number of the above table not directly used in said method is Error which is a defensive statistic but which may be used as an adjustment.
As shown above, it may be desirable to also list the number of official At Bats, or the denominator of the preferred embodiment of said method, in order to show how statistically accurate the number may be. A number is more accurate as a predictor of the future as the denominator increases in size. As with all these statistics, not only are they used to see past performances, they are also used to predict future performances. The ability to predict the future performance of a baseball player would be very valuable to professional baseball organizations where average player salaries are well over two million dollars per year. More accurately seeing the performance of any player, young or old, would also enable them to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and more easily improve their performance.
Many of the modern methods developed for baseball are rich in statistical science and are very good predictors of scoring runs. The better they become for predicting runs and, therefore, predicting winning games, generally, the more complicated they become. The more complicated they become, the less likely they will be used, which is exactly what has happened. None of the modem methods for predicting runs are currently used as an official baseball statistic. One of the objectives of said method is to create a method that accurately records events (as opposed to predicting), combines many of the actions in baseball into one number, is easy to compute and, therefore, more likely to be used.
While my above descriptions contain many variations, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of said method, but rather as an exemplification on the scope of the preferred embodiment thereof. Many other variations are possible, such as adjustment for pitching, designated hitters, and defensive errors. Accordingly, the scope of said method should be determined not by the embodiments illustrated, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.