When it comes to the Most Outstanding Player conversation, Big Train 1B/OF Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State) tops the list. Image Credit: Lisa A. Kammerman/BigTrainPhotos
We have watched all the games. We have seen all the studs. But whether we like it or not, watching the games alone is not enough to determine the best pitching and hitting the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League has to offer. Relying on gut feeling rather than quantitative metrics makes us prone to biases, either consciously or not, that adversely affect our valuation of players. Players can be unfairly judged based on their home ballpark, the ability of their teammates, the caliber of the league’s offense and pitching as a whole, and even personal attributes as physical appearance or character and temperament.
For this article, we apply what we have been talking about all summer in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics to the Cal Ripken Senior Collegiate Baseball League players in order to determine the leading candidates for the end-of-season awards, the Most Outstanding Pitcher and Most Outstanding Player. Let’s get right to it and break our own biases:
There is no way to get it all down to a single number. Even the cumulative Wins Above Replacement (WAR) statistic covered weeks ago as part of Sunday Morning Sabermetrics is not the be-all, end-all stat that determines which ballplayer is the best. For that reason, I have based my rankings of candidates for the awards on a number of sabermetric statistics, some weighted more heavily than others based on which I feel are more pertinent to this collegiate league and its 40-game season, to determine which of the players and pitchers had the most complete and dominant summer season in the Cal Ripken League.
All of the following discussions of advanced baseball statistics are modeled in the Excel spreadsheet (link at the end of the article).
In order to calculate WAR, we need to define the league parameters. This puts metrics in proper context to be able to derive what each individual player is worth on a standardized CRCBL team.
League-Average On Base Plus Slugging (for OPS+). The CRCBL league-wide OPS was .730.
League-Average Earned Run Average (for ERA+). The CRCBL league-wide ERA was 4.53.
Runs per Game. The CRCBL league-wide Runs per Game was 5.388.
Now it gets interesting:
Runs per Win. Calculating how many runs a standardized 2016 CRCBL team scored in games that team won. To arrive at this figure, we take the difference between each individual team’s runs scored and runs allowed per game (for the #2 seed Big Train, that figure was 2.9, for the last-place Dodgers, the mark was -2. We multiply that score by the number of games the team won over an average 20-win team, and average those ten scores to arrive at our Runs per Win figure of 7.135.
Runs per Loss. Since we have already calculated Runs per Win, there is a relatively simple way to figure Runs per Loss. The average of Runs per Win and Runs per Loss must equal Runs per Game, that is 0.5*(7.135 + Runs per Loss) = 5.388, or, Runs per Loss = 2*(5.388) – 7.135, that is, 3.64.
Replacement Wins. In a 40-game season, a .294 winning percentage team (a replacement-level team) wins 11.76 games. The 14-win DC Grays cut it close, but no CRCBL team was below replacement level as a whole in 2016.
Replacement Runs Scored. At 7.135 runs per win and 3.64 runs per loss, a replacement level team scores 7.135*11.76 + 3.64*(40 – 11.76) = 186.7 runs scored, or 4.668 runs per game. The Express scored only 173 runs this season. The Grays scored 177. The offenses of those two teams were below replacement level.
Replacement Runs Allowed. At 7.135 runs per win for the other team and 3.64 runs per loss for the other team, a replacement level team allows 3.64*11.76 + 7.135*(40-11.76) = 244.3 runs allowed, or 6.107 runs allowed per game. This means that the River Dogs, Express, Dodgers, and T-Bolts, with 246, 253, 256, and 262 runs allowed, respectively, had below replacement level pitching and defense in 2016.
Ballpark Adjustments. We need to set ballpark adjustments based on dimensions. I traveled to every CRCBL ballpark in 2016 (except Joe Cannon Stadium, the dimensions of which are available online) and have outlined the appropriate ballpark adjustments for each, based on the size of the park (available in Excel; anything over 1 is pitcher-friendly, anything under 1 is hitter-friendly). This standardizes certain metrics that enable us to more easily compare players from different teams, some of which play in cozy high school parks in Herndon, Vienna, and Baltimore, and others in caverns as Povich Field and Montgomery College. We use ballpark adjustments in determining ERA+, OPS+, and WAR.
If you’ve hung with me to this point, keep going, because now we’re actually going to talk about CRCBL ballplayers and how they compare in candidacy for the 2016 Most Outstanding Player and Pitcher awards.
For the Most Outstanding Pitcher Award, I looked at five statistics:
Adjusted ERA (single weighted). ERA+ was covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics on July 10th.
Fielding Independent Pitching (single weighted). FIP was covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics on July 10th.
WHIP (triple weighted). WHIP, not covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics, is simply calculated as (BB + H)/IP. It measures how effective pitchers are at preventing base runners, and is calculated on pointstreak.com.
Component ERA (ERC) (quadruple weighted). ERC, not covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics, is calculated as:
ERC = ((H + BB + HBP)*(.89*(1.255*(H – HR) + 4*HR) + .56*(BB + HBP – IBB))/(9*(BF – IP))) – 0.56
ERC is a regression of ERA based on number of base runners allowed that more effectively evaluates a pitcher’s ability to prevent runs than does ERA, especially with our smaller sample size of games here in the CRCBL. It is calculated on pointstreak.com.
WAR for Pitchers (quintuple weighted). WAR was covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics on June 12th. WAR is calculated as:
(Pitching Runs Saved/Runs Per Loss)*Ballpark adjustment
Pitching Runs Saved is calculated as: IP*(Lg ERA/9) – ER.
This all culminates in a single score that enables the viewer to compare CRCBL pitchers: The Walter Johnson Score, calculated as follows:
There are 67 eligible position players (also the benchmark used for pitchers to be able to compare the Walter Johnson Score to its offensive counterpart, the Iron Man Score). ERA+ and FIP are single weighted. WHIP is triple weighted. ERC is quadruple weighted. WAR is quintuple weighted. That makes fourteen (1+1+3+4+5) total weights, for a total of 14*67 = 938 ceiling points. Points are deducted based on rank order in performance, so that the #1 pitcher in FIP loses a point, the #3 pitcher in ERA+ loses three, the #7 pitcher in WHIP loses 21, the #11 pitcher in ERC loses 44, and the #16 pitcher in WAR loses 80, and so on (so the highest possible score is actually 924, for a hypothetical pitcher that led in all five categories (938 – 1 – 1 – 3 – 4 – 5).
The top ten 2016 CRCBL pitchers are as follows (see stats in the spreadsheet – link at the end of the article):
Pitcher Name (Summer Team, School) Walter Johnson Score
1. Johnny York (Big Train, St. Mary’s Calif.) 907
2. Jacob Erikson (Grays, San Diego State) 901
3. Matt Chanin (Giants, Maryland Baltimore) 885
4. Sean Barry (Big Train, San Diego) 877
5. Hunter Parsons (Redbirds, Maryland) 873
6. Chih-Yuan Lai (T-Bolts, Taichung Taiwan) 854
7. Drew Strotman (Big Train, St. Mary’s Calif.) 834
8. Jonathan Mierzwa (Dodgers, Catholic) 818
9. Mason Keen (River Dogs, East Carolina) 818
10. Mark Curtis (Redbirds, Shippensburg) 806
With the analysis of pitchers under our belts, let’s now turn to offense. The top five metrics we look at when valuing players offensively are:
Isolated Power (single weighted). ISOP was covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics on June 26th and is calculated on pointstreak.com.
Secondary Average (single weighted). SecA was covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics on July 1st and is calculated on pointstreak.com.
Weighted On-Base Average (triple weighted). wOBA was covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics on June 26th.
Adjusted OPS (quadruple weighted). OPS+ was covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics on June 19th.
Wins Above Replacement (quintuple weighted). WAR was covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics on June 12th. It is calculated as follows:
WAR = (Runs Created (covered in Sunday Morning Sabermetrics on July 1st and available on pointstreak.com)/Runs Per Win)*Ballpark Adjustment
This all culminates in a single score that enables the viewer to compare CRCBL hitters: The Iron Man Score, calculated as follows:
There are 67 eligible position players for the Iron Man Score. ISOP and SecA are single weighted. wOBA is triple weighted. OPS+ is quadruple weighted. WAR is quintuple weighted. That makes fourteen (1+1+3+4+5) total weights, for a total of 14*67 = 938 ceiling points. Points are deducted based on rank order in performance, so that the #1 hitter in SecA loses a point, the #6 hitter in ISOP loses six, the #9 hitter in wOBA loses 27, the #18 hitter in ERC loses 72, and the #29 hitter in WAR loses 145, and so on (so the highest possible score is actually 924, for a hypothetical hitter that led in all five categories (938 – 1 – 1 – 3 – 4 – 5).
Now, pitchers also need to be considered for the Most Outstanding Player Award, if their contributions were large enough that they merit candidacy. However, it is important to standardize Walter Johnson Scores so that the list of MVPs is not overridden with pitchers. I have standardized Walter Johnson Scores as follows:
Iron Man = Walter Johnson*((Walter Johnson/Highest Walter Johnson)^1.82)
This formula gets the number of pitchers in the top 25 list of MVP candidates down to nine but keeps the best pitchers progressively closer to the top of the MVP list.
The top 25 list of candidates for the 2016 CRCBL Most Outstanding Player Award is below (stats on spreadsheet – see link at end of article):
Player Name (Summer Team, School) Iron Man Score
1. Vinny Esposito (Big Train, Sacramento State) 910
2. Johnny York (Big Train, St. Mary’s Calif.) 907
3. Jordan Sergent (River Dogs, High Point) 905
4. Kyle Datres (Redbirds, North Carolina) 894
5. Jacob Erikson (Grays, San Diego State) 890
6. Andy Mocahbee (Braves, Middle Georgia) 853
7. Marty Costes (Redbirds, Maryland) 848
8. Matt Chanin (Giants, Maryland Baltimore) 846
9. Sean Barry (Big Train, San Diego) 825
10. Justin Morris (Big Train, Maryland) 815
11. Hunter Parsons (Redbirds, Maryland) 814
12. Matt Pita (Giants, Virginia Military Institute) 809
13. Tyler Thomas (Grays, Shepherd) 784
14. Chih-Yuan Lai (T-Bolts, Taichung Taiwan) 765
15. Marques Inman (Grays, West Virginia) 758
16. Clayton Daniel (Big Train, Jacksonville State) 747
17. Niko Hulsizer (Aces, Morehead State) 743
18. Cody Brown (Big Train, Mississippi State) 720
19. Drew Strotman (Big Train, St. Mary’s Calif.) 716
20. Tyler Galazin (Express, Chesapeake) 714
21. Evan Alderman (Braves, Georgia Southwestern State) 694
22. Mason Keen (River Dogs, East Carolina) 678
23. Jonathan Mierzwa (Dodgers, Catholic) 678
24. Cade Sorrells (Aces, Lipscomb) 672
25. Cameron Simmons (Redbirds, Virginia) 668
Link to Sunday Morning Sabermetrics Articles (referenced throughout the above article):
June 5th: Pythagorean W-L:
June 12th: Wins Above Replacement:
June 19th: OBP/SLG/OPS/OPS+
June 26th: BABIP, ISO, and wOBA
July 1st: SecA, RC, and wRC+
July 10th: ERA+, RA9, and FIP
July 17th: Game Score for Pitchers:
Link to spreadsheet consolidating poinstreak.com CRCBL statistics, as well as many other advanced metrics implemented into calculating Most Outstanding Player and Pitcher award candidates:
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have about any baseball statistics we have discussed this summer, or just in general if you’re looking to bounce some baseball ideas off me, I’m always listening.
Be sure to tune into the Big Train playoff games this week on PlayOn Sports!