Friday, August 25, 2006

plunks over replacement Craig

As you may have seen, a baseball stats guy named Keith Woolner who writes for Baseball Prospectus is credited with inventing a stat called VORP, which stands for Value Over Replacement Player. VORP is more or less a method of comparing players to an average player in a given season based on their "runs created" (which is a Bill James uberstat). It's a fun idea and no doubt a usefull tool, but as I see it, this is entirely too broad a calculation, and everyone would be better off if they just stuck to the most important stat, HBPs.
It's reasonable to consider which players are the most above average, or most valuable compared to the rest, but instead of looking at averages compared to given seasons, why not look at how a player stacks up against the career average for players with the same first name, regardless of when they played. After all, if you were actually running a big league club, wouldn't you be more worried about whether your manager can remember all the names of the players you're shuttling in and out of his clubhouse, and wouldn't it make everyone's life that much easier if you kept some of the names the same if you're going to be replacing players?
So, with that in mind, we can look at the long history of major leauge players named Craig and see who stacks up nicely against them. Through 2005, their were 33 major leaguers named Craig who had gotten at least 1 plate appearance. They were hit by an average of 14.3 times each. But through '05, Biggio had 273 plunks, which means he had 258.7 plunks over a replacement Craig. So his unfortunately acronymed PORC is 258.7. Since this stat might be entirely backward anyway, maybe it should be called CROP, which sounds a little better. But PORC can only go so far anyway, and really is only valid for players named Craig, so to compare all the great players in history, we'll need to compare each player to the average for their first initial, which I guess would be plunks over replacement (insert first initial here) - PORIFIH, or plunks over replacement with the same first name - PORWTSFN, which is almost as suitably ridiculous sounding as VORP, but much more difficult to pronounce. Or just "POR..." for short.

Top ten players by plunks over replacement with the same first name, through '05:

Players with same first name
PlayerHBPNumberHBPAvg HBPPOR...
Don Baylor2671317966.08260.92
Tommy Tucker2726269011.13260.87
Craig Biggio2733347214.3258.7
Hughie Jennings287630150.17236.83
Ron Hunt243827228.8234.2
Dan McGann230985555.66224.34
Frank Robinson19826714385.39192.61
Jason Kendall197645508.59188.41
Jake Beckley183525179.94173.06
Curt Welch1732227712.59160.41
Andres Galarraga178718626.57151.43
Kid Elberfeld1651724414.35150.65
Fred Clarke1531609726.08146.92
Chet Lemon1511818010141
Fernando Vina1571222318.58138.42
Bill Dahlen14054320333.74136.26
Art Fletcher141843984.74136.26
Chuck Knoblauch139612804.59134.41
Larry Walker1381055895.61132.39
Frank Chance13726714385.39131.61

With Biggio now at 281 plunks, it is unlikely that the average career plunks for players named Craig has risen enough for Don Baylor to keep the lead in this category.

As of the end of 2005, Kevin Youkilis, Kevin Cash, Chad Allen, and Javier Vazquez were the only active players with exactly as many HBPs as the average career total for players with their first name, without being the only player with that first name.

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At 8/25/2006 02:12:00 PM, Anonymous DM said...

Are you saying that there have been 18 major league players with the first name "kid"? C'mon...what kind of Mom names her kid "kid"? They must have had real names.

At 8/25/2006 03:23:00 PM, Blogger pbr said...

Well none of them are named Kid on their birth certificates, but they were filed under Kid on retrosheet and the Lahman database, and they were probably listed as Kid in their programs, just as William Lance Berkman goes by Lance, and Covelli Crisp gets stuck with Coco even though he tried to get people to call him T-bone.

But there hasn't been a Kid in MLB since Kid Willson (with 2 ls) retired in 1927. That Kid didn't have much of a career.
Last year I discovered that the last pair of teammates to have 20 or more plunks each in a single season was Doc Gessler and Kid Elberfeld, which struck me as a name duo you'd never see now. I discovered that there were 20 Doc and Kid combinations in the major leagues, and they all came together between 1898-1914. So, 1898-1914 is clearly baseball's Doc and Kid era. And I have no idea why that amuses me.

At 8/26/2006 08:52:00 AM, Blogger TheBentKangaroo said...

I don't pay much attention: Is Biggio contemplating retirement after this season? I'd hate to see him retire before setting the record.

At 8/26/2006 10:34:00 AM, Blogger pbr said...

The likely plan is that he'll sign another 1 year deal to go after the plunk record in 2007, and that slightly less significant 3000 hits thing. He's at 2908.

At 8/26/2006 01:15:00 PM, Anonymous DM said...

ah the good old days, when baseball players were Doc and Kid and Pud. Coco? Sheesh.


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