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History of the Game's Strength - The Era Difficulty Rating

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  • #31
    Originally posted by SABR Matt
    Actually...the AL's peak in performance happens right BEFORE most of the expansion (1962 was a minor expansion in either league...the big expansions didn't happen until 1969 and 1977...both of which BTW are signularly responsible for the drop in quality of play in both leagues IMHO

    The other approach I've seen to test quality of play has been W% mobility analysis...how doable is it for teams to find players and go from bad to good in short periods...there are times during the depressed 30s/40s/50s ESPECIALLY in the NL...where W% mobility is terribly low...where a couple of good teams dominated for long stretches and not many of the others had a chance to compete except for during the war where talent was essentially randomly scrambled.

    The National League became seriously stagnant in the middle of the 20th century. Skewness values are astoundingly consistant...WWII aside...from 1927 to 1962 and begin slowly climbing during rapid expansion...(reflecting a drop in the quality of play)...you say "quality slides during the pitcher's era"...I say "quality slides during the EXPANSION era...and doesn't rebound until the leagues adjust to the expansion in 1981.

    The AL in 1961 expanded by 25%, the 69 expansion was a growth of 20%. The 1977 by 17%. All and all each expansion was an addition of two teams. How can an expansion of two teams be minor in 1961 but be major in 1969?

    But nobody how we want to label the expansion both leagues improved during the first expansion and declined during the next two. Then in the 90's they improved again during expansion. It doesn't appear to me that your data supports expansion as a reason for the slide.

    Comment


    • #32
      Let me do something here...

      I'm now using EDR2...isntead of EDR1 because I think it's logically a little more consistant to take the skew of a range of years rather than the average of a range of skews.

      What I've done is to calculate DELTA...the difference between a year's EDR2 and year before it.

      I want to see in which years league difficulty increased by the largest amounts from previous years and see if those times make sense...same for rapid decreases.

      Top Increases:

      1887 NL: probably has something to do with rules changes making for better games.
      1878 NL: Dropped from attempts to field 8 teams to fielding only 6...major rules changes and longer schedules begin.
      1959 AL: Negro League Baseball collapses...black wave rushes through major league baseball at every level throughout the 50s...improvements effect league depth from mid 50s to 1962.
      1886 NL: See 1887 NL
      1891 NL: AA players flockign to NL in droves as AA's demise becomes apparent.
      1983 NL: Combination of Latin Expansion and Free Agency
      1908 AL: Deadball era weakest in modern times...improvements begin as Ty Cobb and other talented players finally begin to emerge and enrich the talent pool
      1981 NL: Free Agency and Latin craze (Fernando!!)
      1927 AL: AL begins heading into first golden age of depth...most of the great players you can think of from the 20s played in the AL...the NL by comparison was pathetically weak.
      1916 NL: Federal League players return to the majors
      1994 AL: league begins recovering from 1993 expansion blip...steroids fill clubhouses

      These are all making sense to me...

      Let's try drop-offs:

      1942 AL: WWII
      1952 AL: NL's smaller parks and better scouting prevail...NL fully integrates LONG before AL does...this is why AL lags behind NL throughout the 50s
      1883 AA: AA was never a strong league, but 1882 appears to be the fluke here...probably caused by lack of preceding years in the skew averaging
      1947 AL: Talent shift to the NL starts right around here...
      1920 AL: Hmm...this one I'm not sure about...
      1986 NL: still a strong league in 1986...just coming down from a peak in '84/'85
      1898 NL: A lot of teams beginning to go bankrupt...scouting of new players all but STOPPED in this period.
      1951 NL: one year blip...not sure what caused this one...NL returned to previous standards shortly hereafter.

      I could go on...

      EDR2 looks a little more consistant than EDR1 did...but the overall impression I get is that expansion killed off the positive effects of the latin wave until free agency commensed and the latin wave really took off in the 80s...and the peak in performance just prior to expansion in the late 50s was probably due to Negro League talent.

      Comment


      • #33
        To me, just because its harder to stand out in a league, doesn't necessarily mean that the league is better in quality. It means that there is only so high the top 5% can go, and era differences allow the middle guys to get closer to them, making it appear more talented overall. Lower guys become middle, middle become upper, and top 5% remain, but can't dominate as much.
        "By common consent, Ruth was the hardest hitter of history; a fine fielder, if not a finished one; an inspired base runner, seeming to do the right thing without thinking. He had the most perfect co-ordination of any human animal I ever knew." - Hugh Fullerton, 1936 (Chicago sports writer, 1893-1930's)

        ROY / ERA+ Title / Cy Young / WS MVP / HR Title / Gold Glove / Comeback POY / BA Title / MVP / All Star / HOF

        Comment


        • #34
          You're comments were of course based on working with batting averages and the like, but you're comments about improper use of the negro leaguers does have merit...I think the reason the AL and NL both rapidly improved in the late 50s/early 60s but the AL was WAY behind the NL in mid 50s was that Negro Leaguers had more of a chance to play in the 50s NL than they did in the 50s AL...and that full integration really didn't even begin until just prior to expansion.

          Notice though that rapid improvement STOPS in 1962 in both leagues and through the 60s there is retrogression...which goes on right through about 1979...expansion did weaken the game...but it rapidly recovered when FA and Latino baseball really started taking off...I think I'm on at least generally the right track here...The data appears to make sense from where I'm sitting...obviously...that's up for debate.

          Comment


          • #35
            Sultan...

            think about it this way...if you're an elite player facing a league where there's a large difference between your performance and the second tier guys...don't you think it will be easier for you to do your job than if you're an elite player facing competition filled with a bunch of other players who are close behind you?

            Comment


            • #36
              Ah...I see what's going on...I'm looking at EDR2...you're still looking at EDR1...EDR2 paints a slightly different picture of the 60s...I think a more accurate one.

              Here's that data for the NL:
              Code:
              Year    Lg      EDR1    LgG     EDR2    DELTA
              1955	NL	0.812	1232	0.802	0.005
              1956	NL	0.810	1242	0.807	0.005
              1957	NL	0.806	1238	0.812	0.005
              1958	NL	0.823	1232	0.839	0.027
              1959	NL	0.843	1240	0.840	0.001
              1960	NL	0.858	1238	0.838	-0.002
              1961	NL	0.866	1238	0.861	0.023
              1962	NL	0.863	1624	0.852	-0.009
              1963	NL	0.853	1622	0.864	0.011
              1964	NL	0.848	1624	0.839	-0.025
              1965	NL	0.838	1626	0.823	-0.016
              1966	NL	0.814	1618	0.812	-0.011
              1967	NL	0.781	1620	0.826	0.014
              1968	NL	0.780	1626	0.817	-0.009
              1969	NL	0.808	1946	0.818	0.001
              1970	NL	0.831	1942	0.798	-0.020
              1971	NL	0.826	1944	0.807	0.009
              1972	NL	0.808	1860	0.818	0.011
              1973	NL	0.795	1942	0.820	0.002
              1974	NL	0.798	1944	0.797	-0.023
              1975	NL	0.809	1942	0.798	0.002
              1976	NL	0.805	1944	0.777	-0.022
              1977	NL	0.787	1944	0.784	0.008
              1978	NL	0.772	1942	0.796	0.012
              1979	NL	0.777	1942	0.806	0.010
              1980	NL	0.817	1946	0.820	0.014
              1981	NL	0.875	1288	0.860	0.040
              1982	NL	0.923	1944	0.838	-0.022
              1983	NL	0.932	1948	0.883	0.045
              1984	NL	0.900	1942	0.871	-0.012
              1985	NL	0.852	1942	0.859	-0.012
              There are a couple of blips out of place in the DELTA pattern...but you have to look at the general flow of the data because statistical data is never going to be perfect.

              I see lots of minuses in the DELTA field through the early expansion era...then it fluctuates for a bit...then takes off after the third expansion.

              That makes sense to me.

              Particuarly...notice when the increases begin...1977...the first full year of free agency.

              Comment


              • #37
                Here's the AL over the same span...
                Code:
                Year    Lg      EDR1    LgG     EDR2    DELTA
                1955	AL	0.715	1236	0.749	-0.012
                1956	AL	0.746	1236	0.755	0.006
                1957	AL	0.795	1232	0.777	0.021
                1958	AL	0.841	1238	0.798	0.022
                1959	AL	0.868	1236	0.860	0.062
                1960	AL	0.887	1234	0.880	0.019
                1961	AL	0.901	1622	0.899	0.020
                1962	AL	0.906	1618	0.883	-0.016
                1963	AL	0.897	1616	0.883	0.000
                1964	AL	0.874	1628	0.872	-0.011
                1965	AL	0.844	1620	0.852	-0.020
                1966	AL	0.823	1612	0.837	-0.015
                1967	AL	0.807	1620	0.815	-0.022
                1968	AL	0.797	1624	0.822	0.007
                1969	AL	0.803	1946	0.813	-0.009
                1970	AL	0.818	1946	0.814	0.000
                1971	AL	0.829	1932	0.816	0.003
                1972	AL	0.823	1858	0.845	0.028
                1973	AL	0.830	1944	0.829	-0.016
                1974	AL	0.846	1946	0.851	0.022
                1975	AL	0.852	1926	0.835	-0.015
                1976	AL	0.839	1934	0.842	0.007
                1977	AL	0.838	2262	0.845	0.004
                1978	AL	0.836	2262	0.842	-0.004
                1979	AL	0.835	2256	0.840	-0.001
                1980	AL	0.839	2264	0.869	0.029
                1981	AL	0.858	1500	0.880	0.011
                1982	AL	0.899	2270	0.905	0.025
                1983	AL	0.941	2270	0.925	0.020
                1984	AL	0.968	2268	0.937	0.012
                1985	AL	0.967	2264	0.933	-0.005
                The AL is even more pronounced and makes things even clearer.

                1977 there was no expansion in the NL...in the AL there was...the end result...Free Agency and the expansion cancel each other out and the league holds steady. Meanwhile in the 60s the AL drops from a peak of .899 jsut prior to expansion to .813 after the '69 expansion.

                Comment


                • #38
                  You say it stops at 1962 but why would it continue to increase during expansion and only decline after it?

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by SABR Matt
                    Sultan...

                    think about it this way...if you're an elite player facing a league where there's a large difference between your performance and the second tier guys...don't you think it will be easier for you to do your job than if you're an elite player facing competition filled with a bunch of other players who are close behind you?
                    No, because the point is that players "talent" hasn't gotten better. Era factors have allowed EVERYONE to become good if not great, which closes the gap toward the top 5%.

                    Knowing that average players can become great because of the style of play, will push the top 5% harder (or make them cheat to gain an edge), but the my point is that there's a ceiling to the top 5%. Steroids have allowed some of these guys to poke their head through the ceiling (pun intended, ya know big craniums, ok you get it), such as 66,70, 73, but overall there's a max.
                    "By common consent, Ruth was the hardest hitter of history; a fine fielder, if not a finished one; an inspired base runner, seeming to do the right thing without thinking. He had the most perfect co-ordination of any human animal I ever knew." - Hugh Fullerton, 1936 (Chicago sports writer, 1893-1930's)

                    ROY / ERA+ Title / Cy Young / WS MVP / HR Title / Gold Glove / Comeback POY / BA Title / MVP / All Star / HOF

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Ubiquitus...your question confuses me...

                      It doesn't "continue to increase throughout expansion"...difficulty rating drops throughout the sixties after the peak in 1961 (except the blip rise in 1963 in the NL...again....there are going to be blips...but it's the overall picture)...and levels off after the 1969 expansion.

                      There are several factors that cause it to level off rather than continue to drop (Latin Players, increased roles for Negro Players, improvements in training, medical treatments for injuries and the rules change that lowered the height of the mound leap to mind as contributors to the stable 70s).

                      There is an assumption I think that the expansion shuold IMMEDIATELY and FINALLY alter the talent balance...that it should be one thing before each expansion...and another reduced thing thereafter...I don't think it quite works that way...each expansion brings with it two "bad teams"...those two teams don't really begin to suck talent out of the rest of the league for a few years...their crappiness is isolated...when the league levels out to accept the new teams...that's when the full effects of expansion are felt.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        To Sultan

                        I'll grant that there is possibly a ceiling to human achievement...but you're thikning only in terms of offense...league talent depth runs on both sides of the ball.

                        Part of the reason the 1990s register is highly deep is that although offense increased...it did not go through the roof like it did in previous eras...the batters improved...SO DID THE PITCHERS...and in fact...the in play hit rate did not climb that much from lesser offensive leagues of the 70s and 80s...which says the fielding must also have improved or at least stayed the same.

                        Compare that to the late 1960s where we had a run of great pitchers...but the hitters did NOT respond in kind...there was a large imbalance.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          The AL expands in 1961, that year EDR2 is at its highest peak until the 80's. The next year it slides slightly but again is at its highest until the 80's. It holds it level in 1963 then starts it slides as the pitching era takes over.

                          The NL expands in 1962, in 1961 its at it highest until the 80's, it slips during 1962 but again it is at its highest until the 90's. Then in 1963 it surpasses even the high mark of 1961 before starting its slide into the pitchers era.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by SABR Matt
                            To Sultan

                            I'll grant that there is possibly a ceiling to human achievement...but you're thikning only in terms of offense...league talent depth runs on both sides of the ball.

                            Part of the reason the 1990s register is highly deep is that although offense increased...it did not go through the roof like it did in previous eras...the batters improved...SO DID THE PITCHERS...and in fact...the in play hit rate did not climb that much from lesser offensive leagues of the 70s and 80s...which says the fielding must also have improved or at least stayed the same.

                            Compare that to the late 1960s where we had a run of great pitchers...but the hitters did NOT respond in kind...there was a large imbalance.
                            You say that pitching has improved, but using the naked eye along with baseball knowledge, its clearly watered down. How many guys need to be seasoned down in the minors, but clubs have too much invested in them to keep them there. How many old timers are just hangin' around because they are a bargain, and they're only asked to go 5 innings, or get 2 outs in relief. Why do you think pitchng has increased in this era? Because strikeouts are up? That shows a hitters approach.

                            Defense have improved because of many factors as well. Less ground to cover, smooth infields and outfields, bigger gloves, scouting charts, etc. What causes this to be rendered slightly more meaningless, is that today's style of play is slug for the fences, strikeout or nothing type of baseball.

                            Hey Sabermatt, do you have stats that show the number of fly ball outs recorded for each year?
                            "By common consent, Ruth was the hardest hitter of history; a fine fielder, if not a finished one; an inspired base runner, seeming to do the right thing without thinking. He had the most perfect co-ordination of any human animal I ever knew." - Hugh Fullerton, 1936 (Chicago sports writer, 1893-1930's)

                            ROY / ERA+ Title / Cy Young / WS MVP / HR Title / Gold Glove / Comeback POY / BA Title / MVP / All Star / HOF

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Ubiquitous
                              The AL expands in 1961, that year EDR2 is at its highest peak until the 80's. The next year it slides slightly but again is at its highest until the 80's. It holds it level in 1963 then starts it slides as the pitching era takes over.

                              The NL expands in 1962, in 1961 its at it highest until the 80's, it slips during 1962 but again it is at its highest until the 90's. Then in 1963 it surpasses even the high mark of 1961 before starting its slide into the pitchers era.
                              As I said Ubiquitus...it takes a few years for the effects of an expansion to be felt fully IMHO...what you basically have when you expand a league is the other teams the way they were before minus a few lesser players...and then the exapnsion teams...which are basically dogs.

                              It's not until the Expansion teams start pulling on the rest of the league seriously that they can really have an impact on the run scoring distribution or on the overall average level of competition faced by any one player.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                How come that doesn't really happen at any other expansion?

                                One observatiomn I take away from this is that it looks to me that there never were enough white players to stock 16 teams and have good overall leagues. For instances in the 30's AL league play was high but it was at the expense of the NL. The NL during that stretch was not good.

                                Comment

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