Friday, January 13, 2012

Prince and his Power

One of my stranger collections are the undeveloped ideas, explorations, and arguments that lay in the tenuous existence of this blog's nebulous Saved Drafts folder.

Archived like time capsules, these drafts may house a few lines or more. Sometimes, it's just a title for a post, but more often it's a bunch of half-baked and sloppily written blog fragments.

We've never done this before, but the following is an unpublished post from this past June.

***

Thinking about Prince Fielder's upcoming contract negotiations, I wondered where he ranked in the NL in Homeruns over his career. It must be a high ranking every year. How high?

Over the course of his six full seasons in the big leagues (NL Rank in parenthesis).

2006: 28 (18th)
2007: 50 (1st)
2008: 34 (8th)
2009: 46 (2nd)
2010: 32 (6th)
2011: 38 (2nd)

As one would expect, Boras Corporation bombards front offices with sellable information on their Free Agent clients. The binder the agency produces should include these power numbers for the past 5 seasons: Top 2 in the NL three times in 5 years. That sounds impressive, but how impressive is it?

Compared to Albert Pujols? Not very... Here are Pujols's Homerun numbers (with NL rank) over the past six years:

2006: 49 (2nd)
2007: 32 (10th)
2008: 37 (4th)
2009: 47 (1st)
2010: 42 (1st)
2011: 37 (3rd)

Boras won't be comparing Prince to Pujols in any way, except age.

This is cherry picking numbers, and it's not good for supporting arguments with your friends or on blogs, but it's what a lot of us may do from time to time. It's also something sports agents do all the time. Agents find statistics to support their cases when clients sign their first professional contracts, go through arbitration, and finally test free agents.

When discussing comparable players, statistics can be found to make either player look superior to the other.

Historical context can be powerfully persuasive tools for player agents. Looking at Prince Fielder's Homerun numbers again, this time as a percentage of total Homeruns hit in the league, should give us a useful point of view to discuss historical significance.

He's good for another 100,000 miles
2006: 1.16%
2007: 1.85%
2008: 1.30%
2009: 1.85%
2010: 1.33%
2011: 1.67%

Just for a second, to get away from the primary focus of this exercise (HR power), let's focus on a big picture performance.

The following metric includes defensive ratings from Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs. Here are the players on the MLBTR 2012 Free Agents page, ranked by Career avWAR/600 PA:

Albert Pujols: 7.2
Lance Berkman: 4.5
Prince Fielder: 3.1
Nick Johnson: 2.9
Derrek Lee: 2.7
Carlos Peña: 2.1
Russell Branyan: 1.95
Lyle Overbay: 1.93
Mark Kotsay: 1.88
Michael Cuddyer: 1.6
Casey Kotchman: 1.1
Xavier Nady: 0.9
Brad Hawpe: 0.8
Jorge Cantu: 0.5
Ross Gload: -0.2

Note: these avWAR/600 PA figures are from June 2011.

We're not here to embarrass Ross Gload. We're rooting for him to have a great rest of his career to finish up with a positive WAR.

Getting back to power, % of League Home Runs might be insightful, but I'm beginning to see this whole exercise as pointless. Let's examine the percentage of league HR's for everyone who's ever hit 50 homers.

Barry Bonds, 2001, 73 ~ 2.47%
Mark McGwire, 1998, 70 ~ 2.73%
Sammy Sosa, 1998, 66 ~ 2.57%
Mark McGwire, 1999, 65
Sammy Sosa, 2001, 64
Sammy Sosa, 1999, 63
Roger Maris, 1961, 61 ~ 3.98%
Babe Ruth, 1927, 60 ~ 13.67%
Babe Ruth, 1921, 59 ~ 12.37%
Jimmie Foxx, 1932, 58 ~ 8.20%
Hank Greenberg, 1938, 58 ~ 6.71%
Ryan Howard, 2006, 58
Mark McGwire, 1997, 58
Luis Gonzalez, 2001, 57
Alex Rodriguez, 2002, 57
Ken Griffey, 1997, 56
Ken Griffey, 1998, 56
Hack Wilson, 1930, 56
Jose Bautista, 2010, 54 ~ 2.44%
Ralph Kiner, 1949, 54
Mickey Mantle, 1961, 54
David Ortiz, 2006, 54
Alex Rodriguez, 2007, 54
Babe Ruth, 1920, 54
Babe Ruth, 1928, 54
George Foster, 1977, 52
Mickey Mantle, 1956, 52
Willie Mays, 1965, 52
Mark McGwire, 1996, 52
Alex Rodriguez, 2001, 52
Jim Thome, 2002, 52
Cecil Fielder, 1990, 51
Andruw Jones, 2005, 51
Ralph Kiner, 1947, 51
Willie Mays, 1955, 51
Johnny Mize, 1947, 51
Brady Anderson, 1996, 50
Albert Belle, 1995, 50
Prince Fielder, 2007, 50 ~ 1.85%
Jimmie Foxx, 1938, 50
Sammy Sosa, 2000, 50
Greg Vaughn, 1998, 50 ~ 1.95%

Lastly, we'll be looking at other people who've lead Major League Baseball in Homeruns, since World War II, and figuring their percentage of League HR's.

2011: Jose Bautista, 43 ~ 1.89%
2010: Jose Bautista, 54 ~ 2.44%
2009: Albert Pujols, 47
2008: Ryan Howard, 48
2007: Alex Rodriguez, 54
2006: Ryan Howard, 58
2005: Andruw Jones, 51
2004: Adrian Beltre, 48
2003: Jim Thome and Alex Rodriguez, 47
2002: Alex Rodriguez, 57
2001: Barry Bonds, 73
2000: Sammy Sosa, 50
1999: Mark McGwire, 65
1998: Mark McGwire, 70
1997: Ken Griffey, 56
1996: Mark McGwire, 52
1995: Albert Belle, 50
1994: Matt Williams, 43
1993: Barry Bonds and Juan Gonzalez, 46
1992: Juan Gonzalez, 43
1991: Jose Canseco and Cecil Fielder, 44
1990: Cecil Fielder, 51
1989: Kevin Mitchell, 47
1988: Jose Canseco, 42
1987: Andre Dawson and Mark McGwire, 49
1986: Jesse Barfield, 40
1985: Darrell Evans, 40
1984: Tony Armas, 43
1983: Mike Schmidt, 40
1982: Gorman Thomas, 39
1981: Mike Schmidt, 31
1980: Mike Schmidt, 48
1979: Dave Kingman, 48
1978: Jim Rice, 46
1977: George Foster, 52
1976: Mike Schmidt, 38
1975: Mike Schmidt, 38
1974: Mike Schmidt, 36
1973: Willie Stargell, 44
1972: Johnny Bench, 40
1971: Willie Stargell, 48
1970: Johnny Bench, 45
1969: Harmon Killebrew, 49
1968: Frank Howard, 44
1967: Harmon Killebrew and Carl Yastrzemski, 44
1966: Frank Robinson, 49
1965: Willie Mays, 52
1964: Harmon Killebrew, 49
1963: Harmon Killebrew, 45
1962: Willie Mays, 49
1961: Roger Maris, 61
1960: Ernie Banks, 41
1959: Eddie Mathews, 46 1958: Ernie Banks, 47
1957: Hank Aaron, 44
1956: Mickey Mantle, 52
1955: Willie Mays, 51
1954: Ted Kluszewski, 49
1953: Eddie Mathews, 47
1952: Ralph Kiner and Hank Sauer, 37
1951: Ralph Kiner, 42
1950: Ralph Kiner, 47
1949: Ralph Kiner, 54
1948: Ralph Kiner and Johnny Mize, 40
1947: Ralph Kiner and Johnny Mize, 51
1946: Hank Greenberg, 44

***

We never got back to this post to calculate all the percentages of league home runs. If anyone wants to try it, help yourselves. Share your results with us, and we will give you Big Ups all over cyberspace.

At the very least, this post provided a nifty avWAR/600 PA compilation of projected free agent first basemen from this past June. You can't get that anywhere else.

I'd say it's a good thing that I don't have to date anymore.

This is dreadful date conversation. Thanks for reading.

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