Baseball's All-Time Best Sluggers
Adjusted Batting Performance from Strikeouts to Home Runs
Michael J. Schell
Over baseball history, which park has been the best for run scoring?1 Which player would lose the most home runs after adjustments for ballpark effect?2 Which player claims four of the top five places for best individual seasons ever played, based on all-around offensive performance.3 (See answers, below).
These are only three of the intriguing questions Michael Schell addresses in Baseball's All-Time Best Sluggers, a lively examination of the game of baseball using the most sophisticated statistical tools available. The book provides an in-depth evaluation of every major offensive event in baseball history, and identifies the players with the 100 best seasons and most productive careers. For the first time ever, ballpark effects across baseball history are presented for doubles, triples, right- and left-handed home-run hitting, and strikeouts. The book culminates with a ranking of the game's best all-around batters.
Using a brisk conversational style, Schell brings to the plate the two most important credentials essential to producing a book of this kind: an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball and a professional background in statistics. Building on the traditions of renowned baseball historians Pete Palmer and Bill James, he has analyzed the most important factors impacting the sport, including the relative difficulty of hitting in different ballparks, the length of hitters' careers, the talent pool from which players are drawn, player aging, and changes in the game that have raised or lowered major-league batting averages.
Schell's book finally levels the playing field, giving new credit to hitters who played in adverse conditions, and downgrading others who faced fewer obstacles. It also provides rankings based on players' positions. For example, Derek Jeter ranks 295th out of 1,140 on the best batters list, but jumps to 103rd in the position-adjusted list, reflecting his offensive prowess among shortstops.
Replete with dozens of never-before reported stories and statistics, Baseball's All-Time Best Sluggers will forever shape the way baseball fans view the greatest heroes of America's national pastime.
Answers: 1. Coors Field 2. Mel Ott 3. Barry Bonds, 2001-2004 seasons
Michael J. Schell is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of North Carolina and Director of the Biostatistics Core Facility in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is the author of Baseball's All-Time Best Hitters: How Statistics Can Level the Playing Field (Princeton).