Relative Batting Averages: 2004 and 2014

Relative statistics provide an interesting way to compare the statistics of players who played in different era’s. For example, a batting average of .330 in the late 1890’s does not mean the same thing as a batting average of .330 in the mid 1960’s. The relative approach works best with ratios, such as batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs created and isolated power. This method normalizes the statistics an individual player achieved in a particular year with the league average statistics that same year. The result provides a percentage of how much better, or worse, a particular individual performed in that statistical category compared to the league average.

Relative Batting Average =

Individual Hits / At Bats

Divided By

(League Hits – Individual Hits) / (League At Bats – Individual At Bats)

Playing in the American League during the 2014 season, Jose Altuve produced a Major League leading .341 batting average. Altuve’s relative batting average (RBA) comes out to 1.351, meaning that Altuve’s batting average was just over 35% better than the batting average of the average American League hitter in 2014. Justin Morneau led the National League in batting average with an average of .319. The calculations show that, after normalizing Morneau’s batting average with the average batting average produced by a National League hitter, Morneau produced a batting average just over 28% better than the average National League hitter in 2014.

Thoughts

The first thing that sticks out is Altuve’s American League batting average of .341 in 2014 and Melvin Mora’s batting average of .340 in the American League of 2004. While Altuve’s batting average led all of Major League Baseball in 2014, Mora’s batting average ranked second in the American League and forth in the Majors in 2004. The numbers indicate that, after normalizing the batting averages of Mora and Altuve, Altuve’s batting average of .341 in 2014 was much more significant than Mora’s batting average of .340, and far greater than .010%. Based on their relative batting averages, Jose Altuve produced a batting average just over 35% above the average batting average for an American League hitter in 2014 and Mora produced a batting average a little over 26% above the average batting average for an American League hitter in 2004.*

In the American League of 2004, Ichiro Suzuki posted a Major League leading .372 batting average. In the National League of that same year, Barry Bonds posted a league leading .362 batting average. Even though Ichiro’s batting average was .010% higher than Bonds’ in 2014, after normalizing the averages with the particular league batting average, their relative batting averages were almost identical. Based on the relative approach, when it comes to batting average, both Ichiro and Bonds performed 38% above the average batting performance of their respective leagues in 2004.*

2014

American League: Top 5

1) Jose Altuve – 1.351

2) Victor Martinez – 1.328

3) Michael Brantley – 1.296

4) Adrian Beltre – 1.283

5) Jose Abreu – 1.253

National League: Top 5

1) Justin Morneau – 1.281

2) Josh Harrison – 1.267

3) Andrew McCutchen – 1.261

4) Buster Posey – 1.249

5) Ben Revere – 1.231

2004

American League: Top 5

1) Ichiro Suzuki – 1.383

2) Melvin Mora – 1.262

3) Vladimir Guerrero – 1.249

4) Ivan Rodriguez – 1.239

5) Erubiel Durazo – 1.190

National League: Top 5

1) Barry Bonds – 1.380

2) Todd Helton – 1.325

3) Mark Loretta – 1.280

4) Adrian Beltre – 1.276

5) Albert Pujols – 1.263

Notes

  • The average American League batting average in 2014 was .253.
  • The average American League batting average in 2004 was .270.
  • In 2004 Bonds posted an on-base percentage of .609, a percentage that, once calculated, produces barely over 2.oo. This means that in 2004 Bonds posted an on-base percentage that was 100% above the average on-base percentage produced by a National League hitter in 2004.

Sources

  1. The Hidden Game of Baseball
  2. Baseball Reference

“The Game Itself”

Earlier today I was watching the news, Fox News to be specific, and afternoon show host Sheppard Smith was talking with Sunday Morning show host, Chris Wallace. Smith was giving Wallace some crap because the american football team from his Alma mater has had a better season than the american football team from Mr. Wallace’s Alma mater. (Not sure what specific schools they were talking about, but I could care less) Anyway, Mr. Smith said something like, “you can see Chris doing something on Sunday (his show) while the rest of us are watching football.” The statement Mr. Smith made bothered me. Partly because, for most people living in the United States, it is true. And partly because it is an example of Major League Baseball’s diminishing presence in the Untied States. I cannot tell you how many times I got into an argument as a kid over what sport was better, baseball or football. Most times I was outnumbered 3-1, 4-1, maybe 5-2. But it was very rare for any kid in school, my baseball team or my basketball team to take my side. Not because I lacked debating skills, but because the game of baseball is perceived as old and boring by most young people. And every year I hear from someone in the Office of the Commissioner say, “the game has never been more popular.” Well, if one wants to go by ticket sales or other revenue streams then yes, the game has never been more popular. But just because people running and playing the game are making more money than ever does not mean “the game itself” is stronger than it has ever been. I am not arguing that Major League Baseball is not as strong as it has ever been, because I truly believe it is. But the game itself, the game played in parks, sandlots and, most importantly, in the minds of kids is not, in my opinion, as strong as it was in the past. As a baseball historian, I have studied and done numerous research on how and why Major League Baseball lost its title of “america’s national pastime. Almost all blame can be placed on those who ran and played the game in years past. Major League Baseball had plenty of opportunities to cement “the game itself” into the grass roots of american life, but failed to do so. On the other hand, american football, largely with the help of local colleges, was able to breed the game into the grass roots of american life. The great Mr. Branch Rickey, a former professional american football player himself, saw this coming years in advance and tried to stop it. But the owners at the time refused to listen or simply did not care. I honestly do not believe baseball will ever be able to earn back the title of “america’s national pastime”, and a big part of the reason for that is because many of those running the game are very satisfied with the status quo. Major League Baseball has a monopoly on the game of baseball, at least within the United States. If baseball is to ever truly win back the hearts of america, it must be influenced by outside forces. Mr. Rickey’s idea of a third Major League, the Continental League, in the late 1950’s was a tremendous idea that could have changed the course of, not only the game of baseball, but america in general. Globalization is the theme of the 21st century and baseball people must take advantage of it. I firmly believe that spreading the game of baseball around the world, something which Major League Baseball has done a great job of, is the best way to increase the game’s popularity within the States. A new Major League must be developed, consisting of teams around the world outside of the United States. In time, this new Major League will hopefully be able to rival Major League Baseball and thus establish a true “World Series”, something Bud Selig has talked about for years. Major League Baseball has not faced a true challenge to its product since the Federal League of 1914 and 1915. That means for 100 years Major League Baseball has ran a monopoly on the game of baseball within the United States with zero threat of competition. I believe competition is necessary for the game of baseball to succeed and flourish in the 21st century and beyond. Mr. Rickey understood this, and I hope to one day pick up where he left off in the year of 1960.