Bombs Away

March 18, 2020
                                                                              PREAMBLE
 

            It is really touching how much my puppy loves my slippers.  I don’t let him chew on my slippers, of course, and actually he has outgrown that stage when he chews on shoelaces and strings and cords and, if you don’t stop him, electrical cords.   He still grabs my shoes and starts to work on them any time he can get into my room when I am not there. 

            Actually, it has been remarkably easy to teach him not to do most of these things.  You just tell him "No" in an emphatic manner, and he understands what he is being told not to do, and he very much wants to be a good puppy, so he goes along with the program as much as he is able to.   But he does SO love those slippers.  I put them in places where he doesn’t get into stuff, but he does get them.  Occasionally I go into his room, where he sleeps at night, and find he has snuck in there with one or both of my slippers.  I notice that he has disappeared, and he comes running back with a big innocent look on his face, confident that I would never notice my slipper missing before bedtime. 

            He spends a lot of quality time with my slipper, and he knows he is not supposed to chew on it, so he just nibbles very gently on little parts of it that stick out and beg to be chewed on.  When I catch him doing this he quickly stops chewing and starts licking the slipper affectionately, as if it was my face; see, Daddy, I’m not doing anything; I’m just licking it a little bit.  Sometimes he sticks his nose into the opening of the slipper and just rests it there. Sometimes when he takes a nap he rests his head over it, like a pillow, and when he has a good rawhide bone to chew on he props it up over the opening of the slipper and chews fervently on the bone, but in direct contact with his slipper.  He hasn’t really damaged it in the last month, I don’t think, and I no longer have the heart to take it away from him.   Except when I actually want to wear it. 

 

 

 

Bombs Away

 

         So now we come to Home Runs.  Unlike the other things we have studied here, Home Runs allowed have to be park-adjusted before they can be evaluated.   You don’t have to park-adjust Walks and Strikeouts; I mean, you could, I guess.  There is SOME park effect on strikeouts, because some parks have poor visibility, and there is some variability in Wild Pitches based on the distance from the catcher to the screen behind him; short screen, the runners don’t have as much time to advance.  These effects are small enough that we can ignore them.  You can’t ignore park effects on Home Runs. 

            The #1 team in the data, in terms of NOT allowing home runs, is one that you would never guess.  There are 2,550 teams in the data, so I’ll give you 2,549 guesses.  None of you would get it.

            It’s the 1920 Philadelphia Phillies.  The 1920 Phillies weren’t a good team—they were 62-91—but they allowed only 5 home runs all year on the road.   In their home park they hit 50 home runs and allowed 30.  On the road, they hit 14 homers and allowed 5. 

            The old Baker Bowl was the Coors Field of its day, a place where home run balls went to play with their friends.  Since there were 80 home runs in their home games and only 19 in their road games, their Park Home Run Factor for the season is over 400 (416).   The Phillies allowed just 35 home runs (30 and 5), while the league average was 33, so they were almost average in home runs allowed despite pitching in a park with a one-season Home Run Factor over 400! 

            Adjusting their Home Runs Allowed (35) by the Park Home Run Adjustment (2.35), we treat them as if they allowed 14.87 Home Runs.   Since their pitchers faced 5,906 batters, that is .00252 home runs per batter, or one home run for every 400 hitters.  The era norm was .01038 and the standard deviation was .00284, so they were 2.8 Standard Deviations above the norm in terms of not allowing home runs.  We mark that as 128, which is a normal best-ever ratio—2.8 standard deviations better than the norm.   These are the Top 10:

 

1920

Philadelphia

Phillies

NL

128

1968

New York

Mets

NL

125

1951

Boston

Red Sox

AL

124

1976

San Francisco

Giants

NL

124

1920

Brooklyn

Dodgers

NL

124

2003

Los Angeles

Dodgers

NL

123

1953

Boston

Red Sox

AL

123

1981

Chicago

Cubs

NL

123

1990

Boston

Red Sox

AL

123

1981

Atlanta

Braves

NL

122

 

            I believe that all of those teams except the 1976 Giants played in home run hitter’s ballparks, parks with a Home Run Index greater than 100.  The Giants’ was 99.   You can see why this would be true.  If you play in an extreme Home Run Park, then you just HAVE to get pitchers who don’t allow home runs—whereas, if you play in a big park that doesn’t allow home runs, then you don’t pay that much attention to it, so you wind up allowing a bunch of home runs in your road games.  When the park effect is filtered out, the teams which worried about it wind up ahead, and the teams which didn’t worry about it wind up behind (in that area.  Hopefully they compensated somewhere else.)   These are the teams which had the worst home run numbers. 

YEAR

City

Team

Lg

Score

1913

St. Louis

Cardinals

NL

62

1929

Boston

Braves

NL

63

1900

St. Louis

Cardinals

NL

64

1930

Pittsburgh

Pirates

NL

65

1957

Pittsburgh

Pirates

NL

67

1970

California

Angels

AL

68

1902

Chicago

White Sox

AL

68

1994

Texas

Rangers

AL

69

1987

Minnesota

Twins

AL

70

2000

Chicago

Cubs

NL

70

 

            The team with the worst Home Runs Allowed Rate, relative to the era, was 3.8 standard deviations below the norm. 

            I believe that all ten of those teams played in parks with low home run factors—thus, teams that were not so much inclined to worry about how many long flies they saw screaming back over their hurler’s heads.   When you get away from the ends of the chart, the top and the bottom, then the park effects mix up pretty quickly; they’re just really obvious at the top and bottom of the chart.

            The 1920 Phillies number is of course somewhat flukish.  It is flukish for two reasons.  First, the very low number of home runs in that era creates quite extreme park home run factors, which do slightly eccentric things to the data.  Second, the 1920 National League season is not truly representative of the decade.  It’s an outlier.   There were only 261 home runs in the NL in 1920.  For most of the decade, the numbers were two to three times that high.  The 1920 Phillies’ number is more a deception than a truth.

            But if you’re worrying about that throwing off my eventual conclusions, I wouldn’t worry about it.  All I am doing here is trying to map the bottom of the charts.  The method that I will used to measure the advantages and disadvantages of each pitching staff will be completely different. 

            Anyway. . . . the overall advantage of not allowing home runs is less in the won-lost log than I would have guessed it to be.  The top 510 teams in the data, in terms of not allowing home runs, allowed an average of 634 runs, and had an average won-lost record of 81-75:

 

Fewest HR Allowed

 

81

75

.520

634

Second Fewest

 

79

77

.506

668

Average

 

79

78

.503

690

More Home Runs

 

78

78

.498

711

Most HR Allowed

 

74

83

.473

760

 

            There is 126 runs a year difference between the high-home-runs-allowed teams and the low-home-runs-allowed teams—about one run a game, or a little less.   This is a little bit LESS than the parallel difference for strikeouts or walks.   And here is this chart that I always give you that gives you the average Home Runs per batters faced in each decade, and the standard deviations:

From

To

Average

Standard Deviation

1900

1909

.00371

.00166

1910

1919

.00453

.00183

1920

1929

.01038

.00284

1930

1939

.01400

.00326

1940

1949

.01360

.00378

1950

1959

.02188

.00404

1960

1969

.02161

.00373

1970

1979

.01948

.00358

1980

1989

.02104

.00455

1990

1999

.02482

.00476

2000

2009

.02780

.00372

2010

2019

.02810

.00527

 

            Be well.  Price of gas is lower than it has been in years, but nobody has any place to go.  

 
 

COMMENTS (13 Comments, most recent shown first)

Brock Hanke
I've spent more time than I want to dealing with the Phillies in the 1910s, because I keep running into people who want to put Gavvy Cravath in the Hall of Fame. During the 1910s, the Phillies had two serious home run hitters, for the era. Fred Luderus, their lefty fly-ball-hitting 1B, was one. Cravath, who technically hit righty, but who developed a swing that generated opposite field fly balls, was the Big Gun. Well, in 1920, BOTH of those guys left the starting lineup. Cravath, 39 years old, became the manager, but used himself only as a backup. Luderus, 34 but, really, finished, also was a backup. Between them, they had 77 AB and Cravath hit the only homer. That's probably a lot of what happened to the team homer totals. In 1920, their outfielders were the only guys who hit homers at all. Cy Williams, a lefty, hit 15. Casey Stengal, also a lefty, hit 9. The other OF starter (can't remember the name), hit 14.

The oddest thing, as it was during the Luderus/Cravath period, was that the Phillies never did stock up on lefty hitters. The 1920 starting lineup had exactly the two mentioned above. But so did many of the Luderus/Cravath teams. I would think that you'd pick up lefties any chance you could, if you were in the Baker Bowl, but they didn't.

Dealing with the Cravath maniacs, I started looking at individual player home/road homer splits several years ago. The highest that I have been able to find in the 20th century (the 19th century had some VERY weird ballparks) is Cravath, whose numbers reduce to 3.85 - 1. That is, by far, the highest split I have ever found for homers. Luderus' split was exactly 3-1. It is the SECOND-highest I have ever found. Chuck Klein, who was famous for exploiting the Baker Bowl, had a split of 1.7 - 1. I think you can pretty safely argue that the most-favorable ballpark for home hitters, in the 20th century, had to have been the Baker Bowl in the Dead Ball Era. Luderus and Cravath have fluke numbers; it was a fluke ballpark. Cravath's numbers just give him a completely unrealistic statistical appearance. He wasn't really a home run hitter at all.
4:15 AM Mar 23rd
 
Gfletch
Bill, what kind of slippers do you have? My Grandmother used to knit everybody slippers at Christmas. Gram's knitted slippers, we used to call them. They were great.

I wish I had some now. I have about a dozen pairs of slippers now, but most people would call them socks.
11:29 AM Mar 19th
 
shthar
Bert be-home-by-eleven started giving up homers when he started playing in that trashbag the twins called a ballpark.

50 of em in 1986. 31 home, 19 road.

Still went 17-14 with a 1.178 whip.

Course there were a lot of stories about a 'juiced ball' around that time. and he only gave up 21 HR 2 years later for the twins.

Hell of a pitcher. Only had three bad years, really.


9:02 PM Mar 18th
 
MarisFan61
Sorry to do another post on that other thing, but, in the category of "there are no coincidences":
Walking along in Manhattan today, right after doing those last posts, I saw a license plate "HTRAILS."​
8:40 PM Mar 18th
 
clayyearsley
1994 Texas Rangers - That was their first year in their new (now old and being replaced as soon as we have baseball again) ballpark. They were shocked by how easily balls hit the jet stream and flew out of The Ballpark. They ended up adding windscreens in the form of huge advertisements on the roof in the outfield. That brought down the dingers from super-silly-outside-of-Coors levels to just silly-outside-of-Coors levels for the rest of their 25-year stay.
The new park has a roof. We’ll see how that one plays.
6:52 PM Mar 18th
 
bearbyz
The 1987 Twins won the World Series despite being one of the worst teams allowing home runs. One of their two best starters on the team Blyleven allowed a lot of homers as he got older.
11:40 AM Mar 18th
 
MarisFan61
(link doesn't work directly; need to copy/paste into the address bar)
11:22 AM Mar 18th
 
MarisFan61
BTW it wasn't really her cat, I just put it that way to save a few words on that post that didn't have a whole lot to do with baseball. :-)

Here's a link to the joke. (Many webpages see fit to tell it, in different versions. You can also get it by googling with a few of the words.)
https://www.reddit.com/r/Jokes/comments/3gvln6/roy_rogers_and_the_mountain_lion/
11:22 AM Mar 18th
 
SteveN
Yeah, I'm quite a bit older than you. A tad older than Bill, actually.

I can remember her singing, but, the songs escape me.
10:51 AM Mar 18th
 
bhalbleib
I think the punch line of the Dale Evans/Roy Rogers joke has something to do with the lyrics to one of her songs, so . . . unless you are quite a bit older than me (and I am 51), you probably aren't going to get the joke, even if you heard it.
10:08 AM Mar 18th
 
3for3
It only took me 2376 guesses.
10:07 AM Mar 18th
 
SteveN
I don't know the story of Dale Evans' cat.
9:37 AM Mar 18th
 
MarisFan61
You know the joke about Dale Evans's cat that was too fond of Roy's boots....
3:28 AM Mar 18th
 
 
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