Fall 2011

Volume 40, Issue 2

  • Not Chiseled in Stone: Baseball’s Enduring Records and the SABR Era By Gary Gillette and Lyle Spatz

    Many baseball records are erroneously regarded as sacrosanct: these historic numbers may be burned into our brains, but they are not chiseled in stone. Baseball’s “figure filberts” and historians have done yeoman work in filling in missing details and correcting erroneous beliefs about the patrimony of our National Pastime.

  • Lou Gehrig’s RBI Record: Striving To Get It Right Thanks to 40 Years of Research by SABR Members By Herm Krabbenhoft

    One can find many different numbers for Lou Gehrig's lifetime Runs Batted In: 1,990; 1,991; 1,995; 1,996. Which, if any, of those numbers is correct?

  • Hubbell’s Elbow: Don’t Blame the Screwball By Warren Corbett

    After surgery on his left elbow in 1938, Carl Hubbell's days as an elite pitcher were over. Hubbell and everybody else blamed his injury on the screwball. Is that true? The author consults two of the leading experts on pitching arms, men who disagree about practically everything, to find out.

  • Origins of the Pitching Rotation By Frank Vaccaro

    Thanks to Retrosheet, we have methods to determine rotation patterns and determine which team invented a particular pitching rotation. Here's a summary of how to check it and which teams were the first to use 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-man rotations.

  • SABR Shortstops: An Analysis of Shortstops Before and During the SABR Era By Joseph Werner

    The word “shortstop” conjures thoughts of some of the game’s greatest players, both past and present. But the position, which has been home to 14 Most Valuable Player awards and over 20 Hall of Famers, witnessed a steep decline in production in 1971—the year SABR was founded—before slowly rebounding.

  • Characters With Character: Pittsburgh's All-Black Lineup By George Skornickel

    Pittsburgh has a wealthy history in black baseball. Two of the premier teams in the Negro Leagues, the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays, made their home there. It seems only fitting that the first Major League team to field an all-black line-up would be the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 1, 1971.

  • SABR, Baseball Statistics, and Computing: The Last Forty Years By Richard Schell

    In 1971, the year SABR was founded, the analysis of baseball statistics was still in its infancy, and computers were in the hands of few. Sabermetrics developed alongside the information age, with personal computers enabling those who did not work where computers were easily available to develop their algorithms and analyze data at home.

  • Designated Runner: Herb Washington By Peter Warren

    Herb Washington went to Michigan State for track and became a track star. But who would have thought he would become a baseball legend?

  • The DH in the World Series: Interesting Facts By John Cronin

    Some interesting facts about usage of the designated hitter during World Series play.

  • 1977: When Earl Weaver Became Earl Weaver By Bryan Soderholm-Difatte

    All managers think about strategy, but one can argue that no manager this side of John McGraw changed our prevailing understanding of baseball strategy as much as Earl Weaver.

  • A Graphical View of the SABR Era By Jim Albert

    Baseball has had a rich history in the forty years since the founding of SABR in 1971. It is interesting that SABR began at about the same time as the introduction of the designated hitter (DH) in the American League in the 1973 season. The intent of this article is to use graphs to show changes in batting, pitching, speed, strategy, attendance, and the length of games over the SABR era.

  • Baseball’s Forgotten Era: The ’80s By Dan D’Addona

    The 1980s was a decade of transition for baseball. Power numbers were noticeably down, making the eye-opening numbers of the steroid-enhanced decades following look even gaudier. The lack of power is just one of the many reasons the 1980s remains an overlooked era.

  • How Would You Like to Manage in the Majors?: Baseball Board Games and Their Dedicated Players By Tim Ponisciak

    What if? This is one of the most often asked questions of historians. In baseball, dedicated fans are lucky enough to have some idea of how these situations would have played out. A generation of fans has enjoyed countless hours playing out these scenarios, and others, thanks to a few dedicated people who had a love for statistics and a dedication to accuracy.

  • Out of Here: Home Runs in Canada By Christian Trudeau

    This article examines long balls hit on Canadian soil — from Gary Carter to Carlos Delgado through Joe Carter — more than 40 years after MLB expanded to Montreal.

  • Baseball on Exhibit: Museums in the SABR Era By Zachary Jendro

    Leisure and tourism have become big business. Fans who want to learn more about baseball now have many vacation destinations to visit, and serious scholars now have places to examine the archives and precious artifacts of days gone by. Examining how baseball is represented in museums and how that study has evolved in the last 40 years can tell us a great deal about how the perception of baseball as a historical subject has changed.

  • Pitchers in the Field: The Use of Pitchers at Other Positions in the Major Leagues, 1969–2009 By Philippe Cousineau

    Pitchers are a breed apart. On average, they are taller and heavier than most players. In most leagues, pitchers never come to bat. But the most striking distinction is that pitchers almost never play another position in the field. This article will look at the few exceptions when this rule was broken in major league games since the advent of the divisional era in 1969

  • Baseball’s Major Salary Milestones By Michael Haupert

    Baseball milestones are as well known to fans as their own birthdays and addresses. Baseball’s financial milestones, however, are not as well known. Mining this enormous wealth of data reveals a rich vein of information for the financial historian and baseball fan alike. In this essay, the author uses salary data to put together a list of baseball’s greatest financial milestones.

  • Neill “Wild Horse” Sheridan and the Longest Home Run Ever Measured By Rick Cabral

    On a warm summer evening in 1953, Sacramento Solon Neill Sheridan did something no professional ballplayer before or since has ever done. Between games of a twi-night doubleheader against San Francisco, he raced an Arabian horse—and won. Then in the nightcap, the right-handed slugger homered over the right-field fence, something no one had done all season at Edmonds Field. And then came his fantastic feat.

  • Baseball’s First Power Surge: Home Runs in the Late 19th-Century Major Leagues By Christopher D. Green

    Many casual baseball fans and serious sabermetricians alike hold the belief that the home run was not a terribly important part of the game until the arrival of Babe Ruth in the outfield of the New York Yankees in 1920. But is it true, as is often assumed, that the major league power game had always been so anemic as it was just before the Sultan of Swat hit the scene?

  • Quicker Than Quick: A 31-Minute Professional Game By Wynn Montgomery

    Baseball history was made at Oates Park in Asheville, North Carolina, on August 30, 1916, but nobody noticed. On that day, two baseball teams in the Class D North Carolina State League played a nine-inning game in only 31 minutes—one minute faster than the 1910 Southern League game that has long been touted as the fastest game in professional baseball history.

  • The PING Ratings: A Model for Rating NCAA Baseball Teams By Philip Yates

    Over the past few seasons, college baseball has begun to gain in popularity. With this increase in popularity and scrutiny over the selection of teams, improvements in the ranking of NCAA baseball teams may be needed.

  • Talent Selection in Youth Baseball: Factors that Predict End-of-Season Success By Dr. Stephen Smith

    Introducing a model to eliminate five basic problems in talent research and applying this model to predicting whether youth athletes were selected for their leagues’ All-Star teams.

  • More Highly Connected Baseball Players Have Better Offensive Performance By Dr. Paul Beckman and Jennifer Chi

    Using social network analysis to answer the question: Does the level of connectivity of a baseball player correlate to their on-field professional performance

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