Tony Gwynn died just before the 2014 All Star break. Baseball Twitter took off running down memory lane. I followed. The memories inspired my next LeagueSafe Post article: Roto History: The Revolution of 1987. It was a watershed season for speed AND power. Gwynn joined the exclusive .500/50 (SLG/SB) club along with Eric Davis. Four players coughed up 30/30 seasons. Jose Canseco would open the 40/40 club the very next year. Fantasy baseball would never be the same.
Most years only produce a handful of outstanding individual seasons. Most fantasy owners will own fewer than five of those seasons in a decade. But what if I said you could build an entire fantasy roster using career years across two decades? Me and ten of my nerdiest baseball acquaintances just did. And then I used roto scoring to calculate all the stats and declare a winner.
Before I recap the draft, here’s the basic structure:
- 9 teams in a snaking email draft over two weeks
- 25 man rosters
- All seasons between 1975 and 1994 are eligible (we used the ’94 strike as a cutoff because both home runs and strikeouts soared to a new stratosphere after that)
- When you draft a player, you acquire his exclusive rights for his entire career and select one (1) season for your final roster. You then get credit for his full stat line for that season
- Position eligibility based on ESPN rules (20 games previous season OR 10 games in the selected season)
- 6×6 roto categories: OBP, SLG, HR, R, RBI, SB | IP, W, ERA, WHIP, K/9, SV
And here is the draft board. Read the rest of this entry »
Who wants to spend an hour or more setting up a spreadsheet to manage their auction?
I do! But you probably don’t. Use mine instead. All I ask is that you give me a shout out when you’re done.
Google Sheets file (make yourself a copy to get edit permissions).
Preview image below. See comments for instructions or check out the Auction Primer on LeagueSafePost.
I’ll be posting more baseball stuff over here in 2015, but moving at my own pace. I will still contribute an article here and there to LeagueSafe Post, starting with some preseason content. I’m also going to put my full pitcher rankings up here in a couple days.
Last week I presented the first half of my attempt to stack and rank the best individual seasons of the last 100 years for K% relative to the pitcher’s era. Assuming you already caught Part One, here’s a quick refresher:
- Step 1: Define parameters and objective (individual K% relative to league K%)
- Step 2: Chart the league-wide K% for each season back to 1910
- Step 3: Break down the top 100 seasons by simple K/9
- Step 4: Add the next 100 seasons by K/9 and look for seasons that stand out.
This is where the project bogged down. Less than 10% of my leaderboard changed between Steps 3 and 4, and almost all of my data came from the last two decades (16-19% league-wide strikeout rate), the 60’s (around 15%), and Nolan Ryan. The correlation between strikeout rates and K/9 was too close to 1-1 and not enough to distinguish it from the inherent gap in denominators (K/9 is based on IP while K% uses batters faced).
Jason Collette posted a trivia question recently that got me thinking:
The answer was not Clemens, not Schilling, and not Smoltz. It was also probably not any of the first 20 high-octane relievers you’d think of. It was Francisco Rodriguez.
This got me looking at the single season K/9 leaderboard on Baseball Reference, which in turn got me thinking about the many articles written lately about the inexorable upward march of league-wide strikeout rates. And that led me to this post: we have stats like ERA+ to help us place individual performances properly in the context of their era, but we don’t really have a shorthand for strikeouts.
Since I ended up with far more steps and a whole lot more research than I expected, I came back and split this into two posts:
- Step 1: Define the initial parameters and ultimate objective (measure individual pitcher K% against league K% for that season)
- Step 2: Pull the league wide K% for each season (this was available back to 1910)
- Step 3: Break down the top 100 seasons by straight up K/9 (I’ve been tweeting bits of this for several days now)
- Step 4: Add the next 100 seasons by straight up K/9
- Step 5: Recalibrate – leaderboards exhausted (no seasons prior to WWII appear in the top 500 K/9 seasons)
- Step 6: Manually search for high K/9 seasons prior to WWII (anything over 7 qualifies pitchers as phenoms in that era)
- Step 7: Calculate pitcher/league variance per season to get Adjusted K%, and rank seasons accordingly.
- Step 8: Conclusions
A couple caveats before I dive in:
- This was highly manual research, especially in Steps 6-8, and as such is prone to error. I didn’t have access to all the data I needed from a single source, so I had to combine spreadsheets and in some cases sift data by human rather than by computer. I’d be shocked if I didn’t miss a qualified season or two somewhere toward the bottom.
- Lots of research has been done on why strikeout rates vary between eras and why they are continuing to climb now. However, I don’t think anyone has done this exact piece of research before. The closest I found was this article from The Hardball Times, which does some extensive comparisons of individual pitchers in the context of their eras (Randy Johnson vs. Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden vs. Tim Lincecum, etc.). I also found a nice post focused on some pitchers with extreme low strikeout rates in the 70’s and 80’s.