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Friday, December 05, 2003
we aim to please
jason from chicago:
blog subject request: please explain what you told me that one day about larry bigbie being the luckiest hitter of the year.
also if you wanted to write a paeon to the honorable douglas waechter, i wouldn't complain.
how much did billy wagner sign for?
taking them one at a time . . .
when you're lookig for luck, you look at batting average. after the ball comes off the bat, it bounces around and does crazy things. the ball is the source of randomness for most sports. that's why fox always shows closeups of it flying through the air. i can throw a ball in the air. i wanna see people. golf is the prime example: "look at that ball! whoa, that ball is crazy!"
so here's the theory: batting average depends on 3 skills: making contact, hitting the ball hard, and running fast.
larry bigbie had 287 at-bats, 29 walks, 25 extra-base hits, and 60 strikeouts in 2003. that means he had a walk rate of 29/316=.092, a contact rate of 227/287=.791, and a power rate of 25/227=.110. major league average average for those numbers is .100 .816 .110, so he's slightly below.
but larry pulled in with a batting average of .303, well above the major league norm of .260. we would have expected him to hit (.791)*(.272+(.110)/2)=.259, based on his contact and power, so he gained 43 points from speed and luck.
maybe he's ichiro suzuki's long-lost twin brother. let's see . . . he is left-handed, but he only stole 7 bases and hit 1 triple. so it's safe to say he won't break any land-speed records. his speed is probably worth about 20 points.
that leaves 20 points to luck, and 3 to the gods. so he's a .280 hitter.
his expected obp is (.092)+(287/316)*(.280)=.346, not .365. he'll have a nice, productive peak over the next few years and then quietly fade away.
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