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Ask me again… Who’s next to 600 home runs?
*April 10, 2011*

*Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.*

Tags: 600 home runs, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, oops, stupid predictions, Twins, unwarranted assumptions

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Tags: 600 home runs, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, oops, stupid predictions, Twins, unwarranted assumptions

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In an earlier post, I compared **Manny Ramirez** and **Jim Thome** and came to the conclusion that Thome would be the next player to hit 600 home runs.

Nonetheless, it seems that some of my assumptions were incorrect. The first was the assertion that Manny and Thome were the same age. Mea culpa – Thome is actually almost two full years older. That came from a relative-age comparison I had run a few posts prior and I just misremembered.

The second is that I used a downgraded rate of production for Thome. He had been hitting at a .053 home run per plate appearance clip over the previous season and a half. If, however, I use Thome’s 2010 numbers, he hit – for the same team he’s playing for now, in substantially the same position – 25 home runs in 340 plate appearances for a rate of .0735 home runs per plate appearance, or approximately one home run every 13 1/2 plate appearances.

Finally, I assumed that Thome wouldn’t be used very often. I assumed he’d make about 2.5 plate appearances per game. However, Thome has played in six of the eight games so far this season and made … 16 plate appearances. (Okay, so this wasn’t too bad.)

I’ll make the totally unwarranted assumption that Thome will play in 75% of games and average 2 plate appearances per game. He needs eleven home runs to hit 600. At his average rate, he’ll take (13.6)x(11) = 149.6, or about 150, plate appearances to do this. That’s about 75 games to play in, or about 100 real-time games, if he continues averaging 75% play time and 2 plate appearances per game. That takes us about 62% of the way through the season. The Twins played game #100 on July 26 last year.

I therefore predict that **Jim Thome**, barring injury, will hit his 600th home run in the month of July.

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Jim Thome’s Marginal Value
*October 5, 2010*

*Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.*

Tags: Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, White Sox

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Tags: Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, White Sox

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I’ve alluded to the similarity between **Manny Ramirez** and **Jim Thome** quite a bit. They both played in Cleveland for a few years before moving on to other teams. They’re each in the DH phase of their careers. Thome is about two years older than Ramirez, but otherwise they’ve had relatively similar production. That’s why it was so odd for the White Sox to let Thome go a few years back only to pick an injured, probably going-downhill Manny for about a quarter of the season when Ramirez is making about $18 million and Thome’s maximum salary was about $15.7 million. There’s an argument that Manny still has more productive years left than Thome, of course. (I happen to think that argument is wrong, but that’s just me.)

Just for fun, let’s take a look at their production since Manny’s trade.

In the last 24 games he played, Ramirez had 88 plate appearances, a respectable .420 OBP, and a **Jeter**esque .261 batting average. His win probability added was -.273, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Meanwhile, over the same number of games, the flagging, decrepit Thome had only 79 plate appearances, with a paltry .333 batting average, and only a .494 OBP.

Thome’s salary this year for the Twins was $1.5 million.

I think the winner here is clear.

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600 Home Runs: Who’s Second?
*July 25, 2010*

*Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.*

Tags: 600 home runs, Alex Rodriguez, binomial distribution, Dodgers, home runs, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, quick and dirty stats, Twins

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Tags: 600 home runs, Alex Rodriguez, binomial distribution, Dodgers, home runs, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, quick and dirty stats, Twins

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**Alex Rodriguez** is, as I’m writing this, sitting at 599 home runs. Almost certainly, he’ll be the next player to hit the 600 home-run milestone, since the next two active players are **Jim Thome** at 575 and **Manny Ramirez** at 554. Today’s Toyota Text Poll (which runs during Yankee games on YES) asked which of those two players would reach #600 sooner.

There are a few levels of abstraction to answering this question. First of all, without looking at the players’ stats, Thome gets the nod at the first order because he’s significantly closer than Driving in 25 home runs is easier than driving in 46, so Thome will probably get there first.

At the second order, we should take a look at the players’ respective rates. Over the past two seasons, Thome has averaged a rate of .053 home runs per plate appearance, while Ramirez has averaged .041 home runs per plate appearance. With fewer home runs to hit and a higher likelihood of hitting one each time he makes it to the plate, Thome stays more likely to hit #600 before Ramirez does… but how much more likely?

Using the binomial distribution, I tested the likelihood that each player would hit his required number of home runs in different numbers of plate appearances to see where that likelihood reached a maximum. For Thome, the probability increases until 471 plate appearances, then starts decreasing, so roughly, I expect Thome to hit his 25th home run within 471 plate appearances. For Manny, that maximum doesn’t occur until 1121 plate appearances. Again, the nod has to go to Thome. He’ll probably reach the milestone in less than half as many plate appearances.

But wait. How many plate appearances is that, anyway? Until recently, Manny played 80-90% of the games in a season. Last year, he played 64%. So far the Dodgers have played 99 games and Manny appeared in 61 of them, but of course he’s disabled this year. Let’s make the generous assumption that Manny will play in 75% of the games in each season starting with this one. Then, let’s look at his average plate appearances per game. For most of his career, he averaged between 4.1 and 4.3 plate appearances per game, but this year he’s down to 3.6. Let’s make the (again, generous) assumption that he’ll get 4 plate appearances in each game from now on. At that rate, to get 1121 plate appearances, he needs to play in 280.25 games, which averages to 1.723 seasons of 162 games or about 2.62 seasons of 75% playing time.

Thome, on the other hand, has consistently played in 80% or more of his team’s games but suffered last year and this year because he hasn’t been serving as an everyday player. He pinch-hit in the National League last year and has, in Minnesota, played in about 69% of the games averaging only 3 plate appearances in each. Let’s give Jim the benefit of the doubt and assume that from here on out he’ll hit in 70% of the games and get 3.5 appearances (fewer games and fewer appearances than Ramirez). He’d need about 120.3 games, which equates to about 3/4 of a 162-game season or about 1.06 seasons with 70% playing time. Even if we downgrade Thome to 2.5 PA per game and 66% playing time, that still gives us an expectation that he’ll hit #600 within the next 1.6 real-time seasons.

Since Thome and Ramirez are the same age, there’s probably no good reason to expect one to retire before the other, and they’ll probably both be hitting as designated hitters in the AL next year. As a result, it’s very fair to expect Thome to A) reach 600 home runs and B) do it before **Manny Ramirez**.

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How much should Manny’s stats have dropped?
*June 8, 2010*

*Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.*

Tags: Baseball, baseball-reference.com, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, sports economics, steroids in baseball

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Tags: Baseball, baseball-reference.com, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, sports economics, steroids in baseball

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In an earlier post, I used **Manny Ramirez**‘s differential line to make the case that discontinuing use of performance-enhancing drugs was largely responsible for his drop in production. That’s vulnerable to the criticism that Manny is 38, and that even the best 38-year-old player’s stats drop from his 37-year-old stats.

With that in mind, I queried Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index to find the stats of players from 1961 to 2009 who, like Manny, played 50% or more of their games in the outfield or as a designated hitter (where Manny might be if he played for an AL team). On average, the 37- and 38-year old players played about 105 games, so I scaled Manny’s drop in stats over the first 27 games to 105 games in order to make the comparison clear. The differential line is behind the cut.

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Manny’s First 27 Games (or, the Marginal Product of Drug Use)
*June 4, 2010*

*Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.*

Tags: Baseball, baseball-reference.com, Dodgers, economics, Manny Ramirez, performance-enhancing drugs, sabermetrics, sports economics, statistics, suspension

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Tags: Baseball, baseball-reference.com, Dodgers, economics, Manny Ramirez, performance-enhancing drugs, sabermetrics, sports economics, statistics, suspension

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Last year, **Manny Ramirez** was suspended for 50 games on May 6. The suspension came after his 27th game of the season. On May 25th of this year, Manny played his 27th game of 2010. That means we can take a look at the first 27 games of each season, when he was using performance-enhancing drugs (in 2009) and when he wasn’t (presumably, this year). The differential line is behind the cut.

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Manny bidding Manny
*July 16, 2009*

*Posted by tomflesher in Academia, Baseball.*

Tags: Albuquerque Isotopes, auctions, Dodgers, Economics haiku, externalities, Manny Ramirez, Pigouvian tax, steroids in baseball, suspension

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Tags: Albuquerque Isotopes, auctions, Dodgers, Economics haiku, externalities, Manny Ramirez, Pigouvian tax, steroids in baseball, suspension

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There’s been some debate as to whether **Manny Ramirez** should have been allowed to make his rehab starts in AAA Albuquerque before returning to his Major League club, the Los Angeles Dodgers, after a 50-game suspension for drug use. Behind the cut, I’d like to think about some of the reasons behind the punishment and propose a solution.