Another cog in the wheel known as the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to combat the Extreme Left-Wing Media.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Fun with numbers

For years I've enjoyed Bill James' efforts in explaining baseball through statistical analysis. He started in 1977 with his yearly Baseball Abstracts which ran annually until 1988 (Rich Lederer has done a great job reviewing these in his Weekend Baseball Beat). From 1990 through 1992 James' work was called The Baseball Book. In 1993 he changed publishers and the annual book changed names. From 1993 to 1995 it was called The Bill James Player Ratings Book. After 1995 James' contributed to an annual book published by STATS inc. called the Baseball Scoreboard.

My favorite articles in any of his works were the player projections. He used a mathematical formula (referred to as the Favorite Toy) to estimate how many hits, RBI or home runs a player could be expected to end up with when his career has ended. Today I purchased The Bill James Handbook 2005. Included in the book are Projected Career Totals for Active Players. The list show a projection for Barry Bonds to end his career with 918 home runs. I respect Bill James and am certain he has computed this accurately. Despite my admiration for his math I have to conclude either he or his calculator is nuts. His math may be correct but his conclusion is not. Bonds currently has 703 home runs and will turn 41 during the upcoming season. He has performed tremendously the last few years. However, he would need 5 more great seasons to reach that projection. It's not going to happen. I expect Barry Bonds will hit some more home runs and he will likely pass Henry Aaron as the all-time home run champ. However, I anticipate Bonds having a drop off in production after breaking the record. Aaron, like Bonds, had a great 5 year run leading up to passing Babe Ruth. After passing Ruth at age 40, Aaron's home run totals went down from 20 to 12 to 10 in his final year. The ability of the human body to recover from the daily grind of high level athletic performance decreases after age 40. Players who have done well after age 40 for the most part have been starting pitchers who are able to physically recover between starts.


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