Saturday, October 26, 2013

Alabama vs. Florida State: A College Football Match-up of Undefeated Teams

Alabama.  Alabama.  Alabama.  Alabama.  Alabama.  Alabama.

This is a list of the top college football teams in the country in each of the six polls on  You'll notice each of them is exactly the same.  

Each of them is also bogus.

The Crimson Tide is number one despite the fact that they have the third-easiest schedule (calculated with team's records through week 8 of the college football season) among the eight current undefeated squads in the automatic qualifying conferences.   This statistic, among others, means the Tide should yield the number one spot in the rankings to Florida State.

The Seminoles currently top the aforementioned cohort of undefeated teams in opponent win percentage at .675.   And the boys from Tallahassee are still the best in opponent win percentage even if you remove all Football Championship Subdivision teams from the total of the won-lost records of the undefeated teams' opponents.  

The 'Noles have also played the most difficult schedule of top 25 teams to date (.786 win percentage) and have played them exceedingly well.  Their total point differential against teams ranked in the top 25 is a blistering +100 following their defeats of Maryland (final score: 63-0) and Clemson (final score: 51-14).  The Clemson Tigers, mind you, were ranked third in the AP Top 25 when they faced the Seminoles.

To top it all off, Florida State is the perhaps most well-rounded of the eight remaining undefeated teams, ranking third in the nation in both points scored and allowed per game.  Alabama, for all its defensive prowess (best scoring defense in the country with just 9.7 points allowed per game), has scored 40.7 ppg this season.  While that's nothing to sneeze at, it puts them far below Florida State's average, and last among all the automatic qualifying conference undefeateds.

To their credit, Alabama has not played any FCS teams in 2013, but victories over the likes of Georgia State (currently 0-7 as a member of the Sun Belt Conference), Kentucky (1-6), and Colorado State (3-4, but in the Mountain West) sort of means that their cupcakes are cream-filled as opposed to merely topped with icing and sprinkles.

So with all the accolades that Florida State has built up so far this season, it seems only fit to put them at the top of the polls, as opposed to their SEC counterparts.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pete Rose is Better Than Ichiro Suzuki (But Ty Cobb Beats Them Both)

Last week, Ichiro Suzuki became the sixth player in the history of professional baseball to reach 4,000 hits (1). The other five: Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Pete Rose, and Jigger Statz . But among these six, who’s the best hitter? May I present to you the members of the 4,000 hit club, ranked six through one, based upon on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (SLG), on-base plus slugging (OPS) and OPS+ (2).

A note regarding these rankings: These aren’t the top six hitters of all time. In my opinion, there are only two players worthy of consideration for the superlative of “Greatest Bat Swinger”: Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Instead, this is a ranking of the members of the 4,000 hit club (still great hitters all) based upon how well they hit. So without further ado, let’s begin.

6. Jigger Statz, CF
In eight years in the majors, Arnold John Statz accrued 737 hits and an OPS+ of 87, both the lowest major league numbers of any of the men on this list. Because of his low numbers in OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+, Statz lands at number six here. But don’t think him a poor player by any means. Not everyone plays eighteen years in the Pacific Coast League and racks up 3,356 hits in said league (3). His place on this list is rightfully earned.

5. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
In his thirteen MLB seasons so far, Ichiro has amassed 2,728 total hits (before play began on Saturday, August 31) with the Mariners and Yankees, along with a SLG of .416. His SLG is fourth-best among the six men on this list, and ahead of both Statz and Pete Rose, but his lesser numbers in OBP, OPS, and OPS+ put him at number five in my countdown. Again, Ichiro earned his place as a member of the 4,000 hit club, but there’s a man named Charlie who beat him out for the number four slot.

4. Pete Rose, OF, 1B, 3B, 2B, RF
Okay, so Pete Rose’s name isn’t really Charlie, but he is referred to as “Charlie Hustle.” The Hit King reached base safely via the hit 4,683 times throughout his 27 seasons as a Red, Phillie, Expo, and minor leaguer (4). He lands at number four on this list after beating Ichiro out narrowly in OBP, OPS, and OPS+ (no more than 13 points in any one category). However, his numbers aren’t nearly as good as the next hitter on this list.

3. Hank Aaron, RF
Hank Aaron, with his 4,095 total hits and 755 major league home runs, places third on this list, and it’s not even close (5). Though Pete Rose has a career OBP that’s one point better than Aaron’s, Hammerin’ Hank crushes Rose in OPS, SLG, and OPS+. Aaron’s highest numerical margin of victory over Rose is in SLG, in which he wins by 146 points. 

2. Stan Musial, 1B, LF, RF
Stan the Man hit more than 3,600 of his 4,001 professional hits as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals (6). He’s number two on this list because of his SLG and OPS, both of which are tops among this unique fraternity of six. But he comes in second in my ranking to….

1. Ty Cobb, CF
Tyrus Raymond Cobb is one of just two men on this list (the other being Pete Rose) to rack up 4,000 of his hits in the big leagues alone. But Cobb is number one here because of his OPS+ and (mostly) because of his OBP (7), both of which were tops among the six swingers in this exclusive club. To add even more to Cobb’s number one ranking, he’s also tops in offensive Wins Above Replacement (oWAR) among these six men, nearly 20 points better than Aaron (second in oWAR). So of the players who’ve racked up more than 4,000 hits in pro baseball, Ty Cobb is tops.

**Note: All statistics in this blog post either came from, or were based on the numbers on, except for the sentences marked with a footnote, in which cases the sources are listed just under this paragraph.

***Note 2: All of Ichiro Suzuki’s statistics are current
prior to the beginning of play today. This means his offensive statistics from today’s game are not counted in the totals on this post.

1.There is at least one source noting that a seventh pro baseball player, Julio Franco, also might had more than 4,000 professional hits: A blog post by KennethMatinale.
2. In determining the rankings on this blog post, the idea proposed by Paul DePodesta in Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball that when examining OPS, OBP is worth triple the amount that SLG is worth, was used (pp. 127-29). So, when I ranked the players in OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+, OBP was weighted most heavily of all the statistics.
3. Jigger Statz’s Pacific Coast League numbers from
4. Pete Rose hit total from Kenneth Matinale’s blog post.
5. Hank Aaron hit total from Kenneth Matinale’s blog post.
6. Stan Musial hit total from Kenneth Matinale’s blog post.
7. Again, recall that OBP has three times the value of SLG when looked at in OPS (Paul DePodesta as referenced in Michael Lewis, Moneyball, pp. 127-29).