Reasoning with Sabermetrics

Applying Statistical Science to Baseball’s Tough Questions


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About the Book

Sabermetrics, the specialized analysis of baseball through empirical evidence, provides an impartial perspective from which to explore the game. In this work, the third in a series, three mathematicians employ statistical science in an attempt to answer some of baseball’s toughest questions. For instance, how good were the 1961 New York Yankees? How bad were the 1962 Mets? Which team was the best of the Deadball Era? They also strive to determine baseball’s greatest player at various positions. Throughout, the objective evidence allows for debate devoid of emotion and personal biases, providing a fresh, balanced evaluation of these and many other challenging questions.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Gabriel B. Costa is professor of mathematical sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he is also an associate chaplain.
Michael R. Huber is the dean of academic life and a professor of mathematics at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
John T. Saccoman is a professor and the chairman of the department of mathematics and computer science at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

Gabriel B. Costa, Michael R. Huber and John T. Saccoman
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: 42 photos, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6071-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9281-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface  1
Part I—One Way of Looking at the Issues 5
Issue 1. The Best Team of the Deadball Era 5
Issue 2. How Good Were the 1927 New York Yankees? 8
Issue 3. How Good Were the 1929–1931 Philadelphia Athletics? 12
Issue 4. How Bad Were the St. Louis Browns? 15
Issue 5. Four Consecutive Championships: The New York Yankees of 1936 Through 1939 18
Issue 6. Five Consecutive Championships: The New York Yankees of 1949 Through 1953 21
Issue 7. The Great Brooklyn Dodger Teams of the 1940s and 1950s 25
Issue 8. How Good Were the 1961 New York Yankees? 28
Issue 9. How Bad Were the 1962 Mets? 32
Issue 10. How Good Were the Los Angeles Dodgers Teams of the 1960s? 34
Issue 11. How Good Were the St. Louis Cardinals Teams of the 1960s? 37
Issue 12. How Good Were the 1969 New York Mets? 40
Issue 13. How Good Were the Baltimore Orioles Teams of the 1960s and 1970s? 43
Issue 14. Three Consecutive Championships: The Oakland Athletics of 1972 Through 1974 45
Issue 15. How Good Was the Big Red Machine of 1975 and 1976? 48
Issue 16. Were the 1986 New York Mets Better Than Their 1969 Counterpart? 51
Issue 17. How Good Were the Toronto Blue Jays of 1992 and 1993? 56
Issue 18. Three Consecutive Championships: The New York Yankees of 1998 Through 2000 59
Issue 19. How Good Were the 2004 and 2007 Versions of the Boston Red Sox? 62
Part II—Let’s Debate the Issues 67
Issue 20. Is On-Base-Plus-Slugging the Best Offensive Statistical Measure? 67
Issue 21. What Is the Best Way to Measure the Efficiency of a Pitcher? 69
Issue 22. Baseball’s Second Greatest Player 71
Issue 23. Baseball’s Greatest Hitter 73
Issue 24. Baseball’s Greatest Base Stealer 78
Issue 25. Baseball’s Greatest Offensive First Baseman (After Lou Gehrig) 83
Issue 26. Baseball’s Greatest Defensive First Baseman 85
Issue 27. Baseball’s Greatest Offensive Second Baseman 89
Issue 28. Baseball’s Greatest Defensive Second Baseman 92
Issue 29. Baseball’s Greatest Offensive Shortstop 94
Issue 30. Baseball’s Greatest Defensive Shortstop 97
Issue 31. Baseball’s Greatest Offensive Third Baseman 100
Issue 32. Baseball’s Greatest Defensive Third Baseman 104
Issue 33. Baseball’s Greatest Offensive Outfielder 106
Issue 34. Baseball’s Greatest Defensive Outfielder 110
Issue 35. Baseball’s Greatest Offensive Catcher 113
Issue 36. Baseball’s Greatest Defensive Catcher 116
Issue 37. Baseball’s Greatest Starting Pitcher 120
Issue 38. Baseball’s Greatest Relief Pitcher 123
Issue 39. Baseball’s Greatest Fielding Pitcher 126
Issue 40. Baseball’s Greatest Designated Hitter 129
Issue 41. Baseball’s Greatest Manager 132
Issue 42. Who Should Have Won the American League MVP Award in 1941? 135
Issue 43. Was Cal Ripken, Jr., More Valuable as a Shortstop or a Third Baseman? 139
Issue 44. Who Would You Rather Have on Your Team, Alex
Rodriguez or Albert Pujols? 142
Issue 45. If You Had to Win a Game, Who Would You Pitch? 145
Issue 46. If You Needed a Hit to Win a Game, Who Would You Want at Bat? 150
Issue 47. Who Was the Better Lead-Off Hitter: Rickey Henderson or Ichiro Suzuki? 156
Issue 48. Comparing Four Top Rookie Position Players 159
Issue 49. Comparing Four Top Rookie Pitchers 163
Part III—Quantifying the Impossible? 171
Issue 50. What About Steroids? 171
Issue 51. Who Are the Most Underrated Players in the Hall of Fame? 174
Issue 52. Should Pete Rose Be in the Hall of Fame? 177
Issue 53. Why Wasn’t Joe DiMaggio a First-Ballot Hall of Famer? 181
Issue 54. Who Are the Best Position Players Not in the Hall of Fame? 184
Issue 55. Who Was the Best Athlete Ever to Play Major League Baseball? 188
Issue 56. Who Was the Best Nineteenth Century Ballplayer? 191
Issue 57. Who Were the Best Players of the Negro Leagues? 193
Issue 58. In the Final Analysis, Does Sabermetrics Make a Difference? 195
Appendix: Abbreviations and Formulas  199
References  203
Index  205