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One month ago today…

…this blog exploded. It only lasted one day, but what a glorious day that was. I had written a piece about Bill James’ similarity scores and HOF monitor, talked about Barry Larkin and B.J. Surhoff, and the hits on this site soared. In that one day, 285 people came to this blog. Since then, I’ve only broken 100 once, and that was the day after the 285, so it was probably just a few late-comers.

I have noticed, however, that my stats are slightly up the past two days, with almost 90 visitors each day. I’m not really sure why. No single post is breaking double digits in views during that time. And I haven’t really changed my posting style (I don’t think), nor have I added a great number of links that are drawing traffic in via exchanges.

I may never reach that 285-view plateau again, but I will cherish the memories forever.

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I love statistics, but…

As I stated in my previous post about Larkin vs. Surhoff, I’m not mathematically inclined. I look at the classic raw numbers: home runs, RBI, batting average, etc. I don’t understand OPS or SLG or the other statistics that are often fodder for fantasy baseball blogs. Well, I kind of understand slugging, but I still like homers and ribbies better.

Yes, there was a bit of tongue-in-cheek in the last post. There is no doubt in my mind that Surhoff will at most receive two votes when he becomes eligible for the HOF (incidentally, he’s not even listed among the players eligible for 2011). Larkin, on the other hand, should receive some consideration his first year (2010). He may not make it in his first few years, but I do think he will make it eventually. I’m still not sure if this is because of my Cincinnati ties, or if it is a feeling shared with other baseball fans across the country.

And I’ve got to give a shout out to the fine folks over at Baseball Think Factory who linked my article and resulted in some nice discussion on their site. Perhaps my comparison of Bill James to Steve Sansweet was a bit of a stretch, but you have to give props to Sansweet for his knowledge of the Galactic Empire.

The brilliance of Bill James

To the average baseball fan, the name Bill James doesn’t mean much. But to those who are avid fans, who love statistics and Hall of Fame elections and the history of the greatest game on earth, Bill James is an icon. He is to baseball what Steve Sansweet is to Star Wars.

James has come up with some very interesting statistical analyses for baseballers, including the Hall of Fame monitor and similarity scores (click on each for an explanation from baseball-reference.com). The HOF monitor is designed to show how likely a player is to make it to Cooperstown based on statistics, while similarity scores show how a player compares to other major leaguers. I’m having some trouble wrapping my noggin around some of these, for example…

Barry Larkin, one of the best in the Reds’ franchise over the past 30 years, has a Hall of Fame monitor of 118.5 (a likely HOFer has a score of greater than 100). Looking at his similarity scores, he is most similar to Alan Trammell, another phenomenal shortstop in the pre-power era for the position whose HOF monitor is also 118.5. Number two on the list is Ryne Sandberg (157.5 HOFm), who was elected to the Hall last year. Then you have Derek Jeter (221.5 HOFm), one of the most exciting players in the game today. Drop down just a little bit to the seventh most similar player, and you have B.J. Surhoff (28.5 HOFm). This is where I have trouble understanding. If Surhoff is so similar, why isn’t his HOFm higher?

Maybe someone with a more mathematical mind can explain it to me. Looking at Surhoff’s stats, he was decent. Ten fewer home runs than Larkin, nearly 200 more RBIs. Batting average wasn’t bad at .282, compared to Larkin’s .295. Yet no one ever mentions the HOF when discussing Surhoff. Who am I kidding, no one even discusses Surhoff. But Larkin is thought to be a second- or third-ballot inductee. Is it all geography? Do I hear more about Larkin because I’m in the Cincinnati area? Do Brewer and Oriole fans discuss Surhoff’s HOF prospects?

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