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Entries in BBaltimore Orioles (1)

Sunday
Jul072013

Fun With Baseball-Reference's Neutralized Stats

If you are a regular reader of this site, then you are no doubt, a regular visitor to Baseball-Reference. Which means you also know about Baseball-Reference's neutralized batting and pitching stat tables. If you don't, here's a rundown.

Baseball-Reference took the time to create a special, interactive-like, table where you can adjust a players stats to reflect what they could have been like had the player put up his stats in a different season. Want to change Babe Ruth's 1927 hitting line? See what it would have looked like had he played for the Montreal Expos in 1987? Go for it. Want to see what Jimmie Foxx's 1932 would have looked like had he and his back pocket flask been a member of the Miracle Mets in 1969? You can do that too. See? Fun.

This is fun.

So I was sitting around, doing what people normally do when they live in a town of 1,900 people (which is nothing), and said to myself: "Self. Let's go play around with Neutralized Batting on Baseball-Reference for a few hours. It's not like we are doing anything else today." Then I took my meds, and the voice stopped. But it had already given me a good idea.

And now, here we are.

So let's start with the aforementioned Babe Ruth and his 60 home run 1927 season. The original home run record. A year where the Bambino hit an astounding .356/.486/.772. Now, let's jump into our Dalorean with it's flux capacitor and take this season ahead in time. Add some extra competition. Ruth played in an eight-team American League in 1927 and without interleague play, had the chance to face each team 19 times.

The major league average for runs scored by a team during the 1927 season was a healthy 4.75. Thanks largely to a Yankees team that was stacked from top to bottom, and anchored in the middle by Ruth and fellow slugger, Lou Gehrig.

Now, let's take Ruth out of that season, and put him on the, oh, I don't know, the 1988 Dodgers. Ruth still gets a ring (even though Kirk Gibson reportedly blows up on him in Spring Training for his eating habits), but he now has to face 11 other teams. And the National league average for runs scored is nearly a full run lower at 3.881. What happens?

Ruth is still a monster, but is not as historically monstrous.

He hits 53 home runs instead of 60. Drives in 135 runs instead of 164. And his slash line takes a hit as he now hits .321/.448/.692. If Ruth played his entire career under the circumstances only playing in Dodgers Stadium, and every year the league average for runs scored during a game was at 3.881, he wouldn't hit 714 home runs. He wouldn't hit 700 home runs. He actually falls below Willie Mays and finishes his career with 652.

Which speaks more to the testament of how otherwordly talented Ruth was as a hitter.

Even if you place him in an enviroment where he faces more competition, and where less runs are being scored, and all of his games are being played in a pitchers park. Babe Ruth is still a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Amazing. 

Let's go contemporary.

In Baltimore, Chris Davis is having a season for the ages. He has already matched his career highs for home runs and RBI, and the Orioles haven't even reached the 90 game mark. But what if we took Chris Davis into that same Dalorean, maybe this time with Michael J. Fox driving (I get tired from driving. I'm sure you understand), and place him in an even more favorable hitting environment? Like, oh, I don't know, pre-humidor Colorado in the year 2000.

The 2000 Colorado Rockies scored 968 runs. Baseball-Reference's much-better-at-the-math-than-me stat heads figured out that if they only played games in Colorado, they would have score 1,013 runs. But how would the 2013 version of Chris Davis fare in the middle of a lineup that sported a breakout season from a young Todd Helton?

He would already have 42 home runs and 127 RBI to go along with a slash line of .381/.459/.846. Or roughly Todd Helton's entire 2000 campaign. That's how neutralized batting says he would fare.

So, in summation...

Congratulations to every era of baseball that didn't include Babe Ruth. No matter when he played, there stands a good chance he would have owned that time in baseball history.

And congratulations to the 2000 National League. You didn't have to face what Chris Davis has turned into. A ferocious lefty with power for days weeks months eons. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Check back in next time when I play around with Neutralized Pitching. We'll do some flip-flopping of Christy Mathewson and Pedro Martinez.

We'll have all kinds of fun.

I'll even bring some dip.