Sam

Posts Tagged ‘Tiger Stadium’

Why yesterday’s players were better

In Uncategorized on June 15, 2011 at 12:12 am

I don’t know how many times I have gotten into arguments with people who insist that professional baseball players nowadays are stronger, faster and overall better athletes than ballplayers of an earlier era. Even experienced broadcasters and analysts adhere to this belief. The facts however just don’t support this mis-guided point of view. A case in point: in the history of Tiger Stadium from 1912-1999 only four players hit the ball over the left-field roof: Frank Howard, Harmon Killebrew, Cecil Fielder and Mark McGwire. McGwire’s scandalous record speaks for itself. Although Cecil Fielder’s name has never been linked to steroids he did play in an era which was defined by steroid use and it would not, therefore, be unreasonable to suspect that he may also have used steroids at some point. Frank Howard and Harmon Killebrew, on the other hand, played when performance enhancing drugs were non-existent in American professional sports, and one could argue that they are the only two players who legitimately hit the ball out of Tiger Stadium in its 97 year history.

Similarly only three players have managed to hit the ball completely out of Dodger Stadium: Mike Piazza , Mark McGwire and Willie Stargell who in fact did it twice. Only Stargell’s and McGwire’s drives left the park on the fly. Piazza’s HR hit the roof in left field and bounced into the parking lot. Once again, McGwire’s record speaks for itself. Was Piazza’s home-run legitimate ? Probably not, for he also has long been suspected of using steroids. Willie Stargell on steroids ? Forget it.

In fact, if you google the older ballparks and the longest HRs in those parks, you will see that the longest HRs were hit by players going back one or two generations e.g. a Ted Williams HR at Fenway in 1946 that was measured at 502 ft – regarded as the longest ever HR at Fenway – or a Dave Kingman shot at Wrigley Field in 1976 which almost hit the scoreboard. In the history of Shea Stadium 1964-2007 only one player ever hit a ball into the third deck in LF. That was Tommie Agee in April of 1969. Not even Mark McGwire on steroids could accomplish that.

If today’s players are better athletes then why don’t they hit the ball as far as players in the “old” days ?

The answer: they can’t.

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A statistical analysis of the 1968 Detroit Tigers amid the Detroit Metropolitan weather vector

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2011 at 5:18 am

Abstract: We analyzed localized Detroit weather patterns for each game on the 1968 home schedule of the Detroit Tigers. Using statistical models with an allowance for wind speed, precipitation and temperature we were able to determine a predictable association between batting averages of Tiger starters and prevailing weather conditions.

We had three data brackets as follows:

FW – (fair weather) less than 0.4 % sky cover; Wind speed: < 16 MPH
PC – (partly cloudy) more than 0.4% sky cover ; Wind speed < 16 MPH
OVC – (overcast) Wind Speed < 16 MPH

Left handed hitters in the Tigers lineup Jim Northrup, Dick McAuliffe and Norm Cash hit an average of .24 pts higher on overcast to partly cloudy days (.301) as opposed to clear days. (.277.) while right-handed hitters e.g. Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Bill Freehan, Don Wert and Mickey Stanley were only 12 pts higher on overcast to partly cloudy days. Pitchers on average hit .6 pts higher on clear days. When the wind speed exceeded 16 MPH, right-handed hitters tended to be on average .18 pts higher while left-handed hitters showed no variance. We theorize that this was owing to a location in Tiger Stadium behind the first base concessions area where convective air currents ( CAC) – horizontal rapid air movement at low altitudes – have been measured. When emanating from the right side of the field, CAC favor a right-handed hitter.

More home runs were hit by the Tigers on partly cloudy days than on either OVC or FW days. The exception was Wednesday FW afternoon contests with a low dew point (lower than 40 º F ) at game time. There is a strong correlation between the body’s thermoregulatory abilities and bat grip – more evaporation of perspiration at a lower dew point = greater bat grip – and this would explain with some degree of certainty why we would see more home runs on FW/ dew point < 40 º F days. But we cannot speculate as to why there were more home runs on Wednesday day games – a total of 24 home runs were hit by Tiger batters on Wednesday day games – than on any other day. Further research is needed to answer this question.

Sherman L. Peabody PHD
Winston Collingworth PHD
Reddenbacher Institute for Sports and Gender, University of Tulane