Important update! Keith’s original email to me had the labels reversed
2003 overall rates, pulled by Keith Woolner from play-by-play data:
Bases empty: 3048 HR
Runners on: 2159 HR
That’s 59% bases empty, 41% runners on base
Which makes this totally false:
So Franklin *and the Mariners* are skewed way towards solo shots, far beyond what you’d expect even given the team’s good pitching (and thus fewer baserunners).
The M’s weren’t that far off the norm after all. I think Keith may write about this for a BP article, so I’m going to leave that part to him.
And, following up, this is why I love the blogosphere. I had no sooner finished up my post below than Jeff Sullivan sent me a link to his even-better post over at his blog. Franklin’s rate of solo homers allowed was actually less than the team average. Good stuff, Jeff.
Also, Chris Begley sent in an email that included the same research I did below, but also included three year splits. From 2001-2003, Franklin gave up homers at a rate of 1 every 24 at-bats with no one on, and 1 every 28 at-bats with runners on base. Last year was actually his worst year for allowing dingers with men on base. Which just further goes to show that my speculation was just flat out wrong.
As was kindly pointed out, I shouldn’t blog early in the morning. My mind avoided the fact that most at-bats occur with the bases empty, so the rate of home runs will not be evenly distributed among solo, two-run, three-run, and grand slam home runs.
Here is Franklin’s breakdown by home run per at-bat last year:
Solo Homers: 21 allowed in 480 AB’s. 1 homer for every 23 trips to the plate with the bases empty.
Two Run: 8 allowed in 223 AB’s. 1 homer for every 28 trips to the plate with one man on.
Three Run: 4 allowed in 80 AB’s. 1 homer for every 20 trips to the plate with two men on.
Grand Slam: 1 allowed in 11 AB’s. 1 homer for every 11 trips to the plate with three on.
Any Runners On: 13 allowed in 314 AB’s. 1 homer for every 24 trips to the plate when there were baserunners.
The difference of one homer every 23rd or 24th at-bat would be what we call statistically insignificant.
The conclusion? Our readers are smarter than me, and I was pretty much dead wrong. There’s no evidence to support my claim that Franklin intentionally pitched in a way to allow more home runs when it would do his team the least harm. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true, or that he didn’t try to pitch that way, but it sure didn’t seem to work, even if that was his intent.
Just so Derek doesn’t need to do any more sketchy math, here are Jay Jaffe’s handy 2003 DIPS numbers. I’m not sure where Derek’s calculator failed him, but his average on BIP rates weren’t all that close. The actual totals for the M’s starters last year:
Franklin’s .245 average against on balls in play ranked 3rd best in the majors, behind only Barry Zito and Jeremi Gonzalez. Before you think that this is some kind of stat that proves Franklin is an an upper echelon tier and we’re not giving him credit for pitching well, some of the other folks on that leaderboard are Kip Wells, Joaquin Benoit, John Halama, Ron Villone, Kevin Appier, and Jon Garland. An all-star list it is not.
Also, without having any evidence, it strikes me that Franklin’s rate of allowing solo HR’s would be much higher than normal. There are four possibilities for types of longballs, meaning that the odds of a home run being one certain type should be at least within the range of 25 %, I would think. Perhaps some factors do make a certain home run more common, but I can’t imagine anything that would make a 60 % mark in one category normal. Perhaps I’ll see if we can find some kind of information on this, as I find it an interesting topic.