Northern Kentucky University

Poster Title

The Best Baseball Season Ever? A Triple Crown Perspective

Institution

Northern Kentucky University

Abstract

There is a long standing tradition of “ranking” the best (and worst) teams and player performances in sports. This is perhaps most evident in major league baseball where lists are created on a daily basis ranking players according to a multitude of variables. Most such rankings are based within one particular season, and very few of them involve solid statistical backing. We believe that any knowledgeable follower of baseball would agree that any hitter who wins the “Triple-Crown” (most homeruns, most runs-batted-in, and highest batting average) was the best hitter during that particular season. This feat has been achieved only 15 times in the long history of the game – most recently in 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski. Our approach to ranking hitters uses statistical methods to identify the best single hitter-seasons as well as the best careers with respect to the three Triple-Crown categories. We consider several typical measures of “closeness” to the Triple-Crown – including sums of ranks, z-scores, and Euclidean distances. We also develop a new metric that measures the improvement in performance necessary to carry a player to a triple crown. Lastly, we develop a scoring function that measures performance over each player’s career to identify the greatest players of all time from the Triple-Crown perspective.

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The Best Baseball Season Ever? A Triple Crown Perspective

There is a long standing tradition of “ranking” the best (and worst) teams and player performances in sports. This is perhaps most evident in major league baseball where lists are created on a daily basis ranking players according to a multitude of variables. Most such rankings are based within one particular season, and very few of them involve solid statistical backing. We believe that any knowledgeable follower of baseball would agree that any hitter who wins the “Triple-Crown” (most homeruns, most runs-batted-in, and highest batting average) was the best hitter during that particular season. This feat has been achieved only 15 times in the long history of the game – most recently in 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski. Our approach to ranking hitters uses statistical methods to identify the best single hitter-seasons as well as the best careers with respect to the three Triple-Crown categories. We consider several typical measures of “closeness” to the Triple-Crown – including sums of ranks, z-scores, and Euclidean distances. We also develop a new metric that measures the improvement in performance necessary to carry a player to a triple crown. Lastly, we develop a scoring function that measures performance over each player’s career to identify the greatest players of all time from the Triple-Crown perspective.