I recently got an email from a regular reader worth sharing here. He wrote:
Do you know if anyone has done any research into the effects of the strength of schedule in evaluating teams and how good or how not so good they may be and the effect it has on individual player statistics?
Think of it this way. Teams that play a lot of good clubs should have fewer wins than comparable teams playing teams with losing records. There should be a way of measuring and evaluating this, don’t you think? And to take it even further, it should be possible to rate each hitter and each pitcher vs one another to see who may have their stats either artificially inflated or deflated by the competition level they face. One guys .285/350/450 line may be significatly better than the guy who’s 320/380/535, or the pitcher who’s 12-11 may be better than the guy who went 17-8.
What got me thinking about it is that the key to winning is to play .500 ball against teams with winning records and beat up on the bad teams. With all the strange schedules and uneven matchups, it seems these should, or could be taken into account and measured, say in the same way the pythagorian formula creates simulated win/loss totals.
Look at how the scheduling this year has especially blessed the Reds and the Rangers who’ve feasted on an abundance of rotten teams and been manhandled whenever they’ve played teams with winning records or from competitive divisions. It’s probably part of the reason that Hamilton and Votto have even been mentioned as possible triple crown winners and may even be measurable as to how much it’s added to their counting numbers.
Thoughts? Worthwhile looking into?
I definitely think it merits checking out. I already believe the strength of a player’s team affects his performance. Just a few weeks ago, I ran Nate Colbert’s numbers through the stat converter on Baseball-Reference and noted the large jump he could have experienced playing on a powerhouse from an earlier era than the one he played in. It would logically follow that strength of schedule impacts individual stats, as well. I’m guessing there probably is a way to quantify this, though I’m not sure if I want to be the guy to do it.
Thus, I’m posting something here in hopes a baseball researcher may be up to the challenge. I will happily give full credit here once the results are in. Of course, please let me know if something like this already exists.