If you listen to 670 the Score, you know may have heard of John Dewan of Baseball Info Solutions. Each week he’s on with Mike Murphy talking about a Stat of the Week. Last weeks stat was a good one. I thought I’d post it to see how you do. Web searches are highly frowned upon. Have fun and leave some guesses in the comment section.
It’s the Name Game—sing it with me—you know, that old sixties song: “Nick! Nick, Nick, bo Bick, Bonana fanna fo Fick, fee fy mo Mick…Nick!”
OK, I’m dating myself. This is silly, but it’s fun. What I want you to do is come up with the most valuable last name in the major leagues last year. Not the most valuable player, but the last name that was—when you add the stats of all the players with that last name together—the most valuable in total.
To give you one example, Albert Pujols is a pretty valuable player, but he’s the only Pujols in baseball. On the other hand, there were four Molinas in the major leagues last year (three brothers and a Gustavo, all catchers), but were the four Molinas better than the one Pujols?
Got it? It’s a game—the Name Game—come up with the top last name in the major leagues last year.
We’re going to use Win Shares (courtesy of The Bill James Handbook 2008) to tabulate the scores. Bill James initially devised Win Shares as a way to relate a player’s individual statistics (batting, pitching and fielding) to the number of wins he contributed to his team. As a single number, Win Shares allows us to easily compare the accomplishments of each player and to compare players across positions. We credit a team with three Win Shares for each win. If a team wins 100 games, the players on the team will be credited with 300 Win Shares—or 300 thirds-of-a-win. If a team wins 70 games, the players on the team will be credited with 210 Win Shares, and so on. (Some players accumulate 0 Win Shares; the best player in baseball last year had 37.)
So, was one Pujols better than the four Molinas? Well, in fact he was. Albert had 32 Win Shares, while the Molinas had a total of only 29 for the teams they played for (Bengie 13, Jose 4, Yadier 12, Gustavo 0).
Go ahead and think of all the last names in baseball. Then guess which last name had the most Win Shares last year. (Hint: Pujols and Molina are not in the top ten.)
If you guess the number one name without looking below, pat yourself on the back. When we did this game on the air in Chicago, callers got four of the top five names but missed the leader.
I have the list of the top 10, and I’ll post them tomorrow. Have Fun!!!