Goldman: Small-sample heroes in baseball

From SABR member Steven Goldman at Baseball Prospectus on May 5, 2020:

If we’re going to have baseball at all this year, it’s going to take the form of an attenuated campaign that will make the 144-game SeligVirus season of 1995 seem lush by comparison. While this is not a positive thing in any sense, a truncated baseball season does leave us with the possibility of some fun in the form of small samples. Some players will get hot and won’t have enough plate appearances to cool off again, and the reverse will be true as well: Pity the reliever whose ERA has gone convex because of one bad outing—he’s unlikely to pitch enough scoreless innings to bring it all the way down again.

For now, let’s concentrate on the positive cases, the players who had good performances that would be unsustainable over a full season. You can put together an all-star team that could win the pennant in any 30-game season—provided you managed to time all their lucky hits at the same time. It would be better to have a full season, but if we only get a fraction at least we can look forward to statistical oddities like these.

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Originally published: May 7, 2020. Last Updated: May 7, 2020.