A couple days ago I was reading Jack Shannon's most recent NWLA Tournament article which uses a ton of numbers and formulas (I love #SportsMath) to basically break down whether or not your team sucks. If you haven't already given it a read, I highly recommend you do so. Anyway, in that article he also provides us with some betting lines and a 2017 MLB equivalent to help get a better idea of where your team stands.
That MLB Equivalent section really got me thinking. Are we actually the 1927 Yankees? Do our players compare to the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig? My only option was to look at some numbers and really find out how we compare to MLB players throughout history. While I was at it, I decided to include players from a few other leagues as well. Why not make this into a national article, right?
HOW HE DID DAT?
My first step was to get all of the stats I needed into one, hopefully easy to use spreadsheet. I first downloaded stats for every player from every season in the Live Ball Era from my favorite website, Fangraphs dot com. After that, I went ahead and downloaded the batting stats from the 2016 NWLA Tournament (shoutout to Gallaway for keeping those sortable stats cleeeeean).
What came next was the tricky part. What is the best possible way to compare a wiffleball player to an MLB player? Since the strikeout and walk rates are so much higher in wiffleball, I decided to completely eliminate non-batted ball events. This gets rid of stats such as OBP, OPS, etc. You can criticize me for this if you want, but some of the OBP's in the NWLA Tournament are virtually impossible to achieve in the MLB. What I was left with were the following:
- Slugging Percentage
- The basics (1B, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI)
The basics brought up an issue because we only play 5-10 games in the NWLA Tournament, while MLB players are playing 100+ per season. The easy fix? Scale the numbers down to a "per AB" level. Boom, we're all on the same playing field.
The final step was to create a formula to find which MLB player best compares to each NWLA Tournament player. I made a formula that uses all of the previously mentioned stats with Average and Slugging Percentage carrying 90 percent of the load. "The basics" covered the remaining 10 percent because they're basically already covered in AVG and SLG. Think of them as sort of a tie breaker if the AVG and SLG didn't do enough differentiating.
On the chart you'll only see the AVG and SLG numbers because honestly, the other numbers are boring and they take up too much space. To the far right you'll see a "DIFF" column. This is number that I used to compare you to your MLB counterparts. The closer the number is to 0.000, the better the match.
One last thing. If you don't see your name on the chart it's because:
a. You weren't on a Top 8 team
b. You didn't have at least 20 plate appearances
c. You didn't have a hit in those 20 plate appearances (Tim Wiltjer)
SOME THINGS THAT I NOTICED THAT YOU PROBABLY ALSO NOTICED
- If you hit under .200 there's a good chance you drew a Tom Tresh or Ivan DeJesus comparison because they had two of the worst seasons in MLB history
- TWO Babe Ruth comparisons here. Joshua Rhoton drew a 1921 Ruth while Chris Harley compared to his 1920 campaign
- There were a lot more home-state comparisons than I was expecting. HFWB had Mets and Yankees, KWL had a Tiger, OCWA had a Twin (Rochester is the Twins farm system), SWBL had a Cardinal, and TBW had a Ray
- If you don't know who Zoilo Versalles is, you're in luck. I ran the numbers again to get everyone a more relevant comparison. This time I only included players from the 1990-2016 seasons
THE MORE RELEVANT CHART
SOME MORE THINGS THAT I NOTICED THAT YOU PROBABLY ALSO NOTICED
- 2007 Nick Punto is the modern day Ivan DeJesus
- Rhoton and Harley were compared to Babe Ruth before, and now they're being compared to THE Barry Bonds. Rhoton even managed to draw the '04 season which, in my opinion, is the greatest offensive season in the history of baseball
- Matt Butrym drew an Andres Galarraga comparison which means his nickname is now officially Big Cat Butrym
Before I go I have some plugging to do. Our second tournament of the year is coming up in about two weeks so be sure to sign up here before all of the spots are filled. We're capping this one at 10 teams. Also, please check out the website for this year's C.A.R.E.S. Tournament. It's hosted by our good friend/teammate Regis Pollard and the money goes to an amazing cause.
If you made it this far, thank you for your time. I'd like to leave you with this question: Are Albert Belle and Sam Skibbe the most opposite people on the planet? Take a look at these GIFs and try to argue otherwise