Team Similarity Scores, now with Errors and Stolen Bases

I had a lot of fun with my article Comparing Baseball Teams Throughout History; specifically, writing the program to calculate the numbers and then digging through them to see what the results were. I circulated the article to a few friends and the local SABR chapter and got into a discussion about other ways to measure teams’ similarities.

As a result, I updated the algorithm to take stolen bases (as a proxy for speed) and errors (as a proxy for defense) into account. These numbers are readily available in the Lahman database, making it easy to factor them into the score.

I thought I’d post an update here as the new information has drastically altered the comparables for all of the teams I posted about.

2001 Seattle Mariners

Originally the ’67 Tigers came in as the #1 comp to the powerhouse 2001 Mariners. No longer; now, the 2002 Mariners take the top spot with a similarity score of 840. Also, the ’98 Yankees were way down on the similarity list at #7. They’ve jumped four spots to number 3. And whereas the ’94 Astros were the tenth-most similar team, now they are in the third spot.

The full list:

  1. 2002 Seattle Mariners, 840
  2. 1998 New York Yankees, 812
  3. 1994 Houston Astros, 808
  4. 2000 Atlanta Braves, 793
  5. 2009 Minnesota Twins, 791
  6. 2006 Los Angeles Dodgers, 789
  7. 2003 Seattle Mariners, 780
  8. 1995 Cincinnati Reds, 762
  9. 1987 New York Mets, 757
  10. 1987 Milwaukee Brewers, 753

The 1967 Tigers drop all the way down to a score of 726; I’d guess that is 13th or 14th.

2003 Detroit Tigers

In my first article, the 1963 Mets took the top spot with a score of 781. Now, the 2001 Pirates (originally second place) emerge as the most similar team. In fact, whereas the original list had three Mets teams from the ’60s on it, the updated list now has only the 1966 team.

The top ten in full:

  1. 2001 Pittsburgh Pirates, 758
  2. 1962 Chicago Cubs, 716
  3. 2004 Kansas City Royals, 710
  4. 1964 Washington Senators, 689
  5. 1966 New York Mets, 685
  6. 1988 Chicago White Sox, 668
  7. 2002 Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 666
  8. 1969 San Diego Padres, 665
  9. 1969 Cincinnati Reds, 663
  10. 2001 Detroit Tigers, 662

With stolen bases and errors factored in, the similarity between the ’03 Tigers and the ’01 Mariners drops all the way down to 95.

1986 New York Mets

  • 2006 Los Angeles Dodgers, 822
  • 1983 Philadelphia Phillies, 795
  • 1991 Los Angeles Dodgers, 795
  • 1972 Houston Astros, 787
  • 2005 San Diego Padres, 772
  • 1993 Atlanta Braves, 769
  • 1989 Montreal Expos, 768
  • 1994 Los Angeles Dodgers, 751
  • 1965 Detroit Tigers, 748
  • 2000 Atlanta Braves, 740

There’s the 2000 Atlanta Braves again — they were 79.3% similar to the 2001 Mariners.

2008 Tampa Bay Rays

  1. 2011 Tampa Bay Rays, 838
  2. 2009 Tampa Bay Rays, 831
  3. 2009 Colorado Rockies, 809
  4. 2011 Colorado Rockies, 805
  5. 2010 Cincinnati Reds, 804
  6. 2008 Milwaukee Brewers, 793
  7. 2006 Philadelphia Phillies, 792
  8. 2011 Cincinnati Reds, 764
  9. 2010 New York Yankees, 757
  10. 2011 Toronto Blue Jays, 757

(Aside: Notice how the #9 and #10 teams above are actually tied. My program doesn’t do a good job taking that into account yet.)

1975 Cincinnati Reds

  1. 1976 Cincinnati Reds, 769
  2. 1989 Baltimore Orioles, 732
  3. 1957 Chicago White Sox, 691
  4. 1976 Baltimore Orioles, 684
  5. 1979 Cincinnati Reds, 678
  6. 1973 Cincinnati Reds, 667
  7. 1973 Baltimore Orioles, 663
  8. 1975 Baltimore Orioles, 655
  9. 1974 Cincinnati Reds, 641
  10. 1985 California Angels, 631

Ah, love seeing the Orioles so much on this list, even if they are less than 3/4 similar to the powerhouse Big Red Machine.

1994 Montreal Expos

  1. 2002 Boston Red Sox, 777
  2. 1987 Houston Astros, 749
  3. 2006 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 738
  4. 2010 Chicago White Sox, 725
  5. 1986 Houston Astros, 721
  6. 2004 Minnesota Twins, 716
  7. 1994 Cincinnati Reds, 710
  8. 1990 Los Angeles Dodgers, 708
  9. 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, 705
  10. 1988 New York Mets, 704

The ’02 Red Sox remain as the team most similar to the ’94 Expos.

2010 Texas Rangers

Just for giggles – the first Rangers World Series team.

  1. 1995 San Diego Padres, 895
  2. 2006 Arizona Diamondbacks, 806
  3. 1964 Cleveland Indians, 805
  4. 2003 Florida Marlins, 804
  5. 1997 Los Angeles Dodgers, 802
  6. 2009 Houston Astros, 790
  7. 2007 Chicago Cubs, 786
  8. 2009 Oakland Athletics, 785
  9. 2000 Arizona Diamondbacks, 782

The ’64 Indians?! That team finished in sixth place at 79-83. ANd the ’09 Astros finished 5th in their division at 74-88. Hm.

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One thought on “Team Similarity Scores, now with Errors and Stolen Bases

  1. […] Update 1/25/2014: This article lays the groundwork for the Team Similarity Scores, but more accurate results are available here. […]

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