Wednesday, September 16, 2009

PEVA EQ and the Best Batters Season

No stat is perfect. We'll start out there. But for the Best Player Per Average Season stat, it was a challenge. And one we didn't come up with ourselves. Thanks to those who made the challenge that went something like this. How can you count a season for a player that was a partial season? And then the counter challenge by us. How can you account for a season in years of differing games, maximum plate appearances, and innings pitched?

Well, it's called PEVA per EXPEQ year. What is PEVA, for those unfamiliar. This is the acronym for the Player Rating in each season that runs from a minimum of 0.200 to a maximum of 64.000. (No player has ever gotten the max figure for a full year.) EXPEQ, a stat used within the Salary Projection model, is our mathematical approximation of Major League Service Time, calculated using a percentage of the season played by use. It accounts for short seasons, and from a player's perspective, the amount of use or potential use he would have gotten considering Innings Pitched, Games Played, and Plate Appearances.

So now we have PEVA per EQ Year (Regular Season), the Average Player Rating for a career considering the amount of seasons (EQ) played. And now for the interesting part. Who was the best batter using this dynamic? Drum roll please. It was Lou Gehrig.

For one of the few times in baseball history when you go through its batting stats, Babe Ruth does not lead in a category, coming in #2 on the list at 31.665 PEVA per EQ year vs. teammate Gehrig at 33.627. Now, of course, when you add in Ruth's prowess on the pitching mound, his value exceeds Lou's, adding about 2.500 points to the yearly tally, so this all has to be taken into context.

But does this mean that Gehrig was actually a better batter than Ruth? No. To us, looking at Total PEVA career, as well as PEVA Per EQ Year, should both be considered, as well as the circumstances at the end of a player's career. Ruth played until he was in his 40th year while Gehrig played into his 36th year. The last four years saw Ruth's Batting PEVA per EQ drop from 34.678 to 31.665. If Gehrig had been fortunate to play those years, his average season would like have been lower as well.

But PEVA per EQ is an interesting, if not perfect value. Just look at the player's who reside at the top of the list. Gehrig and Ruth are followed by Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, Ross Barnes, and Tris Speaker, just to name the Top Ten. That's a mighty fine group of players, including Jackson and Barnes who often don't get listed in Top Tens due to Jackson's truncated playing career and the early days and short amount of seasons for Barnes. BTW. Isn't it time for the veterans committee to look into some of the early era's best and take into account the short seasons played? We know that Barnes' case is hurt by not only those counting stats, but also the fact that he played under 10 seasons. But anyone with a 0.359 career batting average deserves a bit of HOF love, don't you think?

How does PEVA per EQ season treat today's current players? Well, it should come as no surprise that the man of the year, decade, and era is Albert Pujols. If Pujols career stopped today, he would rank #5 on the list @ 28.443 PEVA per EQ. And this year isn't going to diminish that value at all. We're looking at one of the top players of all-time and only that time will tell how far up the career rankings list Pujols will end up at ten years from now.

Check out the full Top 20 list for All-Time Players and Top 5 list for Current Players.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lidge Expectation

What should have been expected after a perfect 2009 season, at least perfect from the sense of no blown saves and a World Series championship? Would 0 blown saves have been expected again? No. What was mathematically improbable in one year, particularly with the set of underlying stats that Lidge maintained in 2009, was even less probable for two years in a row. And when you take into account the up and down nature of Lidge's career to that point, one with All-Star level highs and two years prior of average performance, one would assume that the possibility of returning to average performance or All-Star level was likely about the same. But what would come was even less probable, but it has come. Brad Lidge was removed last night from a baseball game in the 9th inning, not because he had blown some saves or been an average pitcher for five months, it was because he was now performing at a level, had the Phillies not given him a 3 year deal worth over $37 million, that would get him into the Arizona Fall League.

And we say this with no pleasure, as the Philadephia Phillies are our favorite team, and we respect and appreciate the stellar season that Brad Lidge gave this town while helping lead them to only the second World Series Championship in team history. But it was not expectation that caused either case to be fulfilled; the wonderful season of 2008 and no blown saves or the season of 2009 when the closer could not find a consistent base at all. It may have been the lack of looking at all of the qualities of a pitcher, but wanting to see only those in the good years.

The 2009 season of Lidge was very good, no doubt about it. But a good deal of credit for that season has to be shared with Charlie Manuel, who used Lidge with perfection at almost every turn. Many of his saves began with more than a one run lead. If memory serves, almost none of them came when Lidge did not start an inning. That's important folks when you think about it. Lidge gives up hits and walks (even last year a WHIP of 1.229, good but not great), but comes through in the end with an unhittable slider when things are going good. This year they are not, giving up 1.816 WHIP and 2.0 HR per 9 inning pitched versus 0.3 HR last year. This all leads to an ERA of 7.11 through September 8 and a PEVA score near 1.000.

But how has Lidge trended throughout his career with his PEVA score (Regular Season).

2003 - 1 Save, 4.396 PEVA
2004 - 29 Saves, 15.433 PEVA
2005 - 42 Saves, 11.321 PEVA
2006 - 32 Saves, 3.112 PEVA
2007 - 19 Saves, 4.858 PEVA
2008 - 41 Saves, 10.887 PEVA

Lidge has been an average to slightly above average pitcher in half of his full seasons, while being an All-Star or slightly below All-Star pitcher in the other three. Expectation. Likely one or the other. And when you start to decipher the contract given in the middle of last year, extending Lidge for three seasons with a 4th year option @ a guaranteed number of $37.5 million,
you can see that the club was counting on the half of Lidge that was All-Star or slightly below.

But his PEVA Player Rating Stats and SPRO Salary Projection numbers indicated all along that you shouldn't count on only the half of Lidge that performs above average level, but consider both. Even after last year's perfect regular season and great playoff performance, SPRO concluded a salary projection for Lidge @ 3 years and $21,644,000. And if you count in this year's performance, it would drop to a 2 year contract and just north of $12,000,000.

And you know, they'd likely be worth it, because in one or two of the next couple years, Brad Lidge will likely rebound to that All-Star or nearly All-Star level closer he is half of the time. We're hoping he rebounds by the time this year's playoffs begin.