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  #16  
Old 09-05-2019, 09:41 AM
ChiTownTrojan ChiTownTrojan is offline
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Originally Posted by TDog View Post
Hypothetically, if you move Thomas' career into Trout's offensive environment and Thomas' WAR would increase. Unless you base WAR on a player's actual contribution to winning actual games, as long as you base it on statistics that you analyze lead to winning games it doesn't tell you what it alleges to tell you. It is a raw statistical measure affected by the same variables that have the current Minnesota Twins outslugging the 1927 Yankees.

The fact that Trout will probably only be 30 when he passes up Thomas on the all-time strikeout list tells you more about their relative hitting than WAR does, even if you believe it doesn't tell you much.
I don't think that is true about WAR. If Thomas played in today's environment, his stats would go up, but the stats of a replacement-level player also have gone up. In the end those two factors would cancel each other out and Thomas's WAR would be about the same. I don't think there are any trends that show WAR numbers are going up now compared to 20 or 50 or 100 years ago. I don't know how WAR is calculated, but I wouldn't be surprised if WAR was normalized in some way so that the total WAR for the league remained constant from year to year (on a per-player basis).

Nobody was trivializing Thomas's achievements. The fact that Trout is about to pass him (and other HOFs) in career WAR, if not this season then early next, is a testament to just how amazing Trout is. He's about to win his 3rd MVP award, after which he will have finished in the top 2 in MVP voting in EVERY SEASON of his career except the year he was called up, and the year he missed time with at thumb injury (2017). It's absolutely insane how dominant he is, and I don't think he gets the credit he deserves from casual fans. Even you TDog, who are obviously a very knowledgeable fan, think of it is a slight to Thomas to compare the two, when it is anything but.
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  #17  
Old 09-05-2019, 04:42 PM
TDog TDog is offline
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Originally Posted by ChiTownTrojan View Post
I don't think that is true about WAR. If Thomas played in today's environment, his stats would go up, but the stats of a replacement-level player also have gone up. In the end those two factors would cancel each other out and Thomas's WAR would be about the same. I don't think there are any trends that show WAR numbers are going up now compared to 20 or 50 or 100 years ago. I don't know how WAR is calculated, but I wouldn't be surprised if WAR was normalized in some way so that the total WAR for the league remained constant from year to year (on a per-player basis).

Nobody was trivializing Thomas's achievements. The fact that Trout is about to pass him (and other HOFs) in career WAR, if not this season then early next, is a testament to just how amazing Trout is. He's about to win his 3rd MVP award, after which he will have finished in the top 2 in MVP voting in EVERY SEASON of his career except the year he was called up, and the year he missed time with at thumb injury (2017). It's absolutely insane how dominant he is, and I don't think he gets the credit he deserves from casual fans. Even you TDog, who are obviously a very knowledgeable fan, think of it is a slight to Thomas to compare the two, when it is anything but.
The talent level hasn't increased in today's game. It is true true that in track and field and swimming, records are continually eclipsed. At the beginning of the 1970s, Mark Spitz, who won six Olympic gold medals in 1972, set a bunch of records swimming for Indiana University. When I was at IU, the daily newspaper reported that the last of his school records had fallen. Still, Bob Beamon's 1968 long-jump record stood for 23 years and was attributed to the high altitude in Mexico City. Similarly, what players are accomplishing today are impacted greatly on game conditions. There are fewer Americans playing baseball. There are more teams. The talent pool is smaller and the number of major league jobs has increased by a third. There are fewer developmental teams. Baseball players aren't competing against the field, as in events from running to golf, but against other players (No defense in the 100-meter whatever or golf.) The concept that athletes are better today does not apply to baseball. Even if athletic skill has increased, I can't see any justification for an argument that demonstrated playing ability has.

Currently, Mike Trout has an offensive WAR of 8.0 with about 15 percent of the season left. In 1992, when Frank Thomas hit 46 home runs, leading the league, while hitting .323 and leading the team in walks while striking out less than 90 times. His strikeout to home run ratio was less than 2 to 1. His offensive WAR for the season was 7.9. Look more closely at the conditions in 1992, Thomas hit about 2.6 of the American League home runs.

This year, adjusting for a 14-team league increases Trout to about 1.6 percent of the American League home runs. In 1965, Willie Mays hit 52 home runs with an average of .313. Adjusting Mays to a 14-team league(he played in a 10-team league), brings his home run total to about 2.8 percent. In 1927 when Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs with a 11.2. He hit .356, led the league in walks, struck out fewer than 90 times. Adjusting Ruth's nearly 14 percent of the league's home runs to a 14-team league is meaningless because he hit more home runs than every other team in the American league. Still, 85 percent of his way into the 2019 season, he has 72 percent of Babe Ruth's 1927 WAR. In 1927, the White Sox hit only 36 home runs, but Babe Ruth hit a home run over the new second deck in old Comiskey Park. No light towers yet to describe his power.

It isn't just the juiced ball increasing offense. Other factors include the smaller strike zone, smaller than Thomas faced in 1992, dramatically smaller than Willie Mays faced in 1965. Keep in mind, too, that Willie Mays was playing half his games in Candlestick, although he wasn't facing Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Warren Spahn in every game.

I am not arguing against the premise that Mike Trout is the best player in the game today. I am arguing that any argument involving WAR comparing Mike Trout with any player historically is meaningless. If you want to talk baseball, you would be best to eliminate WAR from your vocabulary.
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  #18  
Old 09-05-2019, 05:38 PM
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Baseball fans know Trout more than anyone but if you ask the general public writ large I wouldn’t be stunned if more people recognize Pujols than Trout.
I would.

Puljols gained most of his fame with Cards. No World Series titles with the Halos, so he has not been in the widespread public eye like he was in his glory days of the Cards. Die hards like us know he is with the Angels, but the average person probably thinks he is either with the Cards or retired.
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  #19  
Old 09-05-2019, 05:44 PM
Mohoney Mohoney is offline
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The idea that pitching today is not demonstrably better than pitching was 20 or 25 years ago is preposterous. Even as recently as 2008, only 11 pitchers averaged 95+ mph on their fastballs. Last year, 74 pitchers averaged 95+ mph on their fastballs. In 2008, 196 pitches were thrown at 100+ mph. Last year, pitchers threw 1,320 such pitches. The percentage of fastballs clocked at 95+ has risen from 8% to 18%.

Here is a sample of 2018 slash lines vs. various pitch speeds.

Vs. 92 mph: .283/.364/.475

Vs. 95 mph: .259/.342/.421

Vs. 98 mph: .223/.310/.329

Vs. 101 mph: .198/.257/.214

In other words, today’s hitters likely would put up yesteryear’s offensive numbers against yesteryear’s pitch speeds.
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  #20  
Old 09-05-2019, 06:11 PM
TDog TDog is offline
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Anyone who has ever watched a Class A minor league pitcher throwing 100 mph with an ERA in excess of 8 can tell you this argument is preposterous.


Aside from the fact that it is extremely hypothetical and can't be proven without altering the laws of physics, it's ridiculous to try to use a statistical argument to show that 2019 hitters would have done better than hitters in 1968 facing Bob Gibson and Luis Tiant because they didn't throw 100 mph.
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  #21  
Old 09-05-2019, 06:14 PM
Grzegorz Grzegorz is offline
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So fastball MPH has risen. Big deal. MPH is congruent to better pitching?

Beyond preposterous.
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  #22  
Old 09-05-2019, 07:11 PM
Mohoney Mohoney is offline
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Originally Posted by Grzegorz View Post
So fastball MPH has risen. Big deal. MPH is congruent to better pitching?

Beyond preposterous.
That’s what the data says, but since you all hate the idea of using math in conjunction with baseball anyway, I don’t expect it will mean much.
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  #23  
Old 09-05-2019, 07:49 PM
TDog TDog is offline
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The data doesn't say that.

And if you want to use math in conjunction with baseball, as you are determined to do, the data says that 85 percent of Mike Trout's season, in which he has about 1 percent of the American League's home runs and is hitting .290 with 120 strikeouts, has produced an offensive WAR of 72 percent of Babe Ruth's 1927 season when he outhomered ever American League team and hit over .350 with fewer than 90 strikeouts.

Last edited by TDog; 09-05-2019 at 07:55 PM.
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  #24  
Old 09-05-2019, 07:52 PM
Mohoney Mohoney is offline
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Originally Posted by TDog View Post
The data doesn't say that.
It sure does.

92 mph gets shellacked nowadays. It’s not even pedestrian anymore.
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  #25  
Old 09-05-2019, 11:44 PM
TDog TDog is offline
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It depends on placement and movement. Velocity generally limits movement. Hitting is about timing and pitch recognition. Pitching is about upsetting timing and limiting pitch recognition. There are pitchers who can get as much out of a 92 mph fastball as others do out of 98 mph fastball because they know how to pitch. There are pitchers who don't know how to upset timing and supply more power to hitters by making their hittable pitches harder. Sometimes there are pitchers having bad days.

On Sunday, May 10, 2015, the White Sox were facing the Reds' Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth of a 3-3 game. With two outs and none on, Avisail Garcia and Alexei Ramirez hit line drive singles. Gordon Beckham, with a 2-2 count lined a single to right. MLB at the time reported that each of the hard line drive singles came on 101 mph fastballs. It was the only time Beckham has faced Chapman to date. Beckham only hit .209 for the 2015 season. Whatever Chapman was doing that day, he wasn't able to get his fastball past Garcia, Ramirez and Beckham, and of the three, Beckham was clearly not a fastball hitter. Anecdotal, perhaps, but this was something that actually happened and not a mathematical projection on a spreadsheet.

Your data doesn't say that hitters today are better because pitchers are throwing harder. It doesn't say pitchers are better because they are throwing harder. It says pitchers are throwing harder. That doesn't make them better pitchers. The environment is different and hitters have adapted to the changing environment, just as there are pitchers who adjust to changes in hitters' approaches.

What the numbers do say, however, as I have noted is that WAR does stand up as a valid statistic against the standard of reality.
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  #26  
Old 09-06-2019, 05:04 AM
Grzegorz Grzegorz is offline
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I have no problem using math in baseball. I do have a problem when looking at a metric and running with it to claim certitude.
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  #27  
Old 09-06-2019, 08:07 AM
Mohoney Mohoney is offline
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Originally Posted by TDog View Post
The data doesn't say that.

And if you want to use math in conjunction with baseball, as you are determined to do, the data says that 85 percent of Mike Trout's season, in which he has about 1 percent of the American League's home runs and is hitting .290 with 120 strikeouts, has produced an offensive WAR of 72 percent of Babe Ruth's 1927 season when he outhomered ever American League team and hit over .350 with fewer than 90 strikeouts.
Except it’s not saying that. oWAR =/= offense only; it also includes baserunning. You’re using the metric incorrectly.

Ruth was +108 batting RAA in 1927. Thus far, Trout is +59 batting RAA. His season with the bat is only about 55% as valuable as Ruth’s 1927 season.
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  #28  
Old 09-06-2019, 11:16 AM
asindc asindc is offline
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Originally Posted by Mohoney View Post
The idea that pitching today is not demonstrably better than pitching was 20 or 25 years ago is preposterous. Even as recently as 2008, only 11 pitchers averaged 95+ mph on their fastballs. Last year, 74 pitchers averaged 95+ mph on their fastballs. In 2008, 196 pitches were thrown at 100+ mph. Last year, pitchers threw 1,320 such pitches. The percentage of fastballs clocked at 95+ has risen from 8% to 18%.

Here is a sample of 2018 slash lines vs. various pitch speeds.

Vs. 92 mph: .283/.364/.475

Vs. 95 mph: .259/.342/.421

Vs. 98 mph: .223/.310/.329

Vs. 101 mph: .198/.257/.214

In other words, today’s hitters likely would put up yesteryear’s offensive numbers against yesteryear’s pitch speeds.
The bolded part of your post does not at all prove the underlined part of your post. Look at the difference between Mariano Rivera and Aroldis Chapman, for instance. Or Mark Buehrle and almost any pitcher in history that threw 95+.
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  #29  
Old 09-06-2019, 12:44 PM
WhiteSox5187 WhiteSox5187 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mohoney View Post
The idea that pitching today is not demonstrably better than pitching was 20 or 25 years ago is preposterous. Even as recently as 2008, only 11 pitchers averaged 95+ mph on their fastballs. Last year, 74 pitchers averaged 95+ mph on their fastballs. In 2008, 196 pitches were thrown at 100+ mph. Last year, pitchers threw 1,320 such pitches. The percentage of fastballs clocked at 95+ has risen from 8% to 18%.

Here is a sample of 2018 slash lines vs. various pitch speeds.

Vs. 92 mph: .283/.364/.475

Vs. 95 mph: .259/.342/.421

Vs. 98 mph: .223/.310/.329

Vs. 101 mph: .198/.257/.214

In other words, today’s hitters likely would put up yesteryear’s offensive numbers against yesteryear’s pitch speeds.
It's hard to compare eras because there are a lot of other factors that go into performance on the field that aren't always taken into consideration.

For example, if you just transported Stephen Strasburg of today back into 1968, he'd probably dominate for a period of time because no one would be able to hit his fastball. But he'd also be expected to throw 250+ innings and if he blew out his elbow again, his career would be over.

If you were able to magically transport guys between eras, players from today would probably dominate for a time until they got injured and I would imagine that most players from the past would struggle or be at best league average.

But if you took guys from the past and exposed them to all of the modern training tools and injury prevention methods we have now, I think they'd probably do better. I also think guys from the game today would encounter more challenges if they didn't have all the tools for training and health that they have now, pitchers especially.
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  #30  
Old 09-06-2019, 12:54 PM
ChiTownTrojan ChiTownTrojan is offline
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Originally Posted by TDog View Post
Your data doesn't say that hitters today are better because pitchers are throwing harder. It doesn't say pitchers are better because they are throwing harder. It says pitchers are throwing harder. That doesn't make them better pitchers. The environment is different and hitters have adapted to the changing environment, just as there are pitchers who adjust to changes in hitters' approaches.
Partially correct. The data says more than just that pitchers are throwing harder, it says that they are harder to hit when they are throwing harder. It does not say that the pitchers throwing 100 mph today are harder to hit than different pitchers that through 92 a couple decades ago.

Pitchers can get away with mistakes when their pitchers come in at 100 vs. 92, which is why so many young pitchers are learning to throw so hard (some of whom are blowing out their arms in the process). The best pitchers of yesteryear probably wouldn't need to throw so hard because they don't make as many mistakes. As a result, my guess is that the "floor" for the quality of pitchers is higher now (due to even the mediocre pitchers throwing harder), but the ceiling hasn't changed. Just my hypothesis, I don't know if that's measurable in any way.
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