If you don’t have any plans for the the 4th of July evening, let me make a suggestion. The Everett Aquasox are hosting Eugene tommorrow night, and 17-year-old phenom Felix Hernandez is making his first professional start. There will be a fireworks display after the game, and there are still lawn seats available for $5.00 a pop. Seriously, don’t sit at home and watch TV. You’ll have a blast at the game, and you’ll be able to tell people that you saw Felix Hernandez before he was Felix Hernandez.
A while back, I mentioned that I’d done some work on defense, statistically and using simulations, on the effect of defense, and specifically how they build on improvements. If you upgrade your centerfielder from someone who catches no balls to someone who catches all balls possible for the position, you turn all those hits into out, but that’s just the start. In turning outs into hits, you also eliminate the opportunity for other hits and runs.
Think of it this way: if you turn a two-out double into an out, you eliminate the chance the ~1/3 chance that the next guy gets a hit, possibly driving the first guy in, and then the 1/3rd chance the next guy gets a hit: you eliminate all chances for a rally.
In the same way, though, offense piles on. If you upgrade a terrible hitter to an excellent hitter, you don’t just turn outs into hits, you also give the next guy in the lineup more trips to the plate, and hopefully in 1/3rd of those he’ll get hits, and when he doesn’t make an out, the next guy comes up, and so on, and so on.
And in that way, a player’s impact goes far beyond their individual statistics, and while every baseball event seems isolated, it is in fact not at all isolated, and has a cascade effect. This has nothing to do with today’s game.