I like stats, I really do. I enjoy going to FanGraphs every day to not only read the articles that their collection of writers post each day, but also because they have more (useful) statistics and organize them much better than the MLB website with theirs (although the lack of lefty/righty split data is a bit frustrating). Since I look at statistics so often, I see what’s counted and sorted and how this player is better than that player and how Joe Mauer is having the season of his life.
My college has a J-Term semester every year* and the class that I’m taking this year taught me how to finally use Excel. I understand that it’s not the greatest program in the world (thanks, Professor X and Erin from Picked Off At First K-Bro from K-Bro’s Baseball Blog for telling me) but it does what I want it to do, which right now is simply add stuff up and divide it by other stuff to get usable stuff.
* Apparently fewer people know what J-Term is than what I thought. Basically it’s a January-long semester where students can take a class or internship. We’re required to have at least 2 J-Term classes while at Gustavus in order to graduate. If you don’t take a class or work on-campus, then you stay home for the month.
Thanks to my newfound ability to use Excel, I’ve decided to embark on a little project which requires me to look at every single Twins game from the 2009 season. I apologize for being secretive, but I won’t share what I’m looking at until I’ve finished and I consider everything to be presentable. I’m sure I’m acting a bit paranoid, but I’d enjoy the fact to be able to show off what I’ve found someday without having someone else beat me to the punch simply because they have more time on their hands. Here are the comments that I am willing to share with you, however:
1. I am looking at four main things, although they are all related to each other.
2. These four things are for offensive players, although it could be used for pitching/defense as well.
3. To my knowledge, Baseball Reference does not keep track of any of these four things (and if they’re not there, they likely aren’t anywhere) although there are plenty of statistics that are similar.
4. These will not be difficult to compute. All four are rate stats, e.g. strikeouts per 9 innings.
5. Through 2 months of games, the leaders in one statistic are Joe Mauer, Nick Punto, and Denard Span. In a different (but similar) statistic, the order changes to Mauer, Justin Morneau, Span, and Punto. Crazy that Punto’s in there, isn’t it?
6. I’m only looking at the Twins right now. Trust me, 163 games is plenty. Maybe if I started this at the beginning of the season, then I’d look at all 30 teams.
7. Lastly, I think these are all important to look at. There certainly are plenty of variables involved that cause someone like Nick Punto to rate just under Joe Mauer, but looking at the rates instead of just the countable numbers helps fix part of this problem. I don’t think that what I’ve found so far is a fluke.
Hopefully I can have this all done by the end of January. I must admit that looking at 50-ish games (so far) is rather tedious, but I’m certainly enjoying this work. Now enjoy your work/school week by celebrating the Vikings win with your friends and family.
Edit: It’s 2 am and I’ve now completed 4 months of the season. Maybe I’ll actually be done by the Vikings/Saints game next weekend. Yes, I could just work for another 3 hours straight and get the entire season taken care of sometime tomorrow, but I still have stuff that I’d need to write up. Why is this important, how come this player rates so much better even though he’s not a power hitter, what surprised me, etc.