Winter MeetingsBoy Howdy, Las Vegas was real exciting especially for the Roxs who picked up 38 year old relief pitcher, Alan Embree, and called it a success (?), at least that is what the email to season ticket holders said. Realistically, I didn't expect the Roxs to pick up Manny Ramirez but where is that 4th starter to shore up the rear end of the rotation (Tim Redding???...ughhh scrap heap pitchers ain't the answer)? Just a thought, but with the money drying up in the free agent market, don't you think that next year Holliday might wish he stuck around for the $85 million the Roxs offered up?

Big Bat Theory?

The Denver Post and Patrick Saunders led off Sunday's paper with an article asking "whether a team can thrive without (a top-flight slugger)"? Anytime a question is thrown out like that and then not back up by anything but baseball antidotes I have to look into the numbers. The obvious difficulty in answering a question like this is how do you classify a slugger? Is it your home run king, your RBI leader, combination of HR/RBI leader, or some other stat like OPS? In the Rox's 16 years, the HR and RBI leader was the same only 8 times (Bichette, Galarraga, Castilla, Helton (x3), and Holliday).

In my thinking and looking at 16 years of Rox's data, I will classify a slugger that hits greater than 20% of their teams HRs or hits in more than 16% of the team's RBIs. So for 2008, Holliday and Hawpe hit 25 HR which individually accounted for 16% of the team's HR (160). In 2007, Holliday's 36 accounted for 21% of the team's total (171). So Holliday was a slugger in 2007 but not so much in 2008. For RBIs, Atkins had 99 or 13.9% of the team's total (714) and in 2007 Holliday had 16.6% (137) of the team's total (823). The All-Time leader is Helton in 2000 when he accounted for 26% of the team's HR at 42 (team 161) and Castilla in 1998 when he had 18.2% of the team's RBIs (144 of 791). So back to the analysis...if you take the years the Rox had a slugger (i.e. > or equal to 20%) then there were 10 seasons and those teams had a collective record of 767 - 791 (0.492). If you move the definition to 22% then there were 5 seasons with a collective record of 361 - 391 (.480). RBI leader team collective records for greater than equal to 16% is 760 - 798 (0.488). From this analysis it would appear having one player collect all of your big hits doesn't really make for a great Rox's team. With the other 5 seasons of not having a "slugger" the Rox were a collective 422 - 550 (.434) so I guess in some manner of speaking having a big bopper might help the Roxs. Unfortunately, the Rox's history isn't probably the best example as they have had only 5 winning seasons! It is interesting to note though that for four of five of those seasons the HR and RBI leaders were the same...

OK so maybe the Rox's history isn't the best place to look. In 2007 and 2008, the MLB average was 18% and 19% respectively for HR leaders with respect to their team totals and 14.3% and 14.5% for RBIs. It is interesting to note that in 2008, only 8 of the 30 teams had different HR and RBI leaders (Marlins, Reds, Cubs, Mets, Rox, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Mariners). In summary then for the two years noted if you look at collective team records for those that had one batter have more than 18% of the team's total HR then the record was 2431 - 2429 (.500) and evenly split with 30 teams having one batter > 18% vs 30 with no batter > 18% of total team HR. For RBIs when one batter with more than 14% of the team's RBI total then the record was 2372 - 2325 (.505) with a 29/31 split. If you increase the HR to 22% then you have a record of 987 - 957 (.508) with a 12/48 spilt and increase RBI total to 16% you have a collective win total of 1226 - 1205 (.504) with a 15/45 split. At a 22% HR and a 16% RBI slugger, than these teams would have 10 - 8 more wins above .500 respectively. Note if you modify my statement above and change a slugger definition to > 22% then the Rox had 5 seasons with a 'slugger; and the collective record was 361 - 391 (.480).

So perhaps there really isn't any true statistical basis for determining if having a slugger is worth more wins. From my perspective having a big bat accounting for alot of HR and RBIs is probably not statistically relevant but I bet mentally it has a huge factor. How many late inning rallies center around that number 3 or 4 batter? Also it is difficult to measure how a team feels if behind by one or two runs with their slugger coming up 3rd or 4th in the order versus having your 7 - 9 hitters? I tend to think of it has the reason baseball as sided with one dominant closer. I don't think it really matters who pitches the 9th but so much of baseball has become mental that not having your "closer" come in makes your team more vulnerable?