Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AL WestAmerican LeagueLos Angeles AngelsMLB

Chance of Mike Trout posting a .500+ OBP in 2020

Major League Baseball’s first proposal of the week was an ugly-looking swing and a miss.

I’m not going to delve deeply into the proposal, so in concise terms, the players being paid the most money would see the biggest reductions in pay (in terms of total money and percentage of what they would’ve been paid).

A star who would have been paid $35 million in a “normal” 2020 season would be paid $7.84 million in the proposal, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

A player who would have been paid $563.5 thousand would be paid $262 thousand.

Even if one prorates salaries for games missed, the reductions are still meaningful.

Many insiders have reported that the chances of a MiLB season being played are slim. The Oakland Athletics, starting in June, will discontinue weekly payments of $400 to minor leaguers in their system. The White Sox released 25 minor leaguers.

Some teams are reducing employees’ salaries and in some cases, letting them go.

The list goes on and on, and one has reason to doubt that baseball will be played in 2020.

Personally, I will remain optimistic, and I would love for baseball to return (assuming it is deemed safe for all involved by health experts/advisors).

If a MLB season does take place, there is a chance that rare statistical feats could be accomplished, as outlined by Chris Cwik in his article for Yahoo Sports.

The one that I am going to explore is the possibility of Mike Trout posting an on-base percentage of .500 or higher.

Since 1871, there have been 24,452 player-seasons of at least 300 plate appearances. A .500+ OBP was recorded in 21 of those player-seasons (0.086% [less than 1 in 1000]).

In the last 80 years, only three players have posted an OBP of .500 or higher in a single-season.

The highest on-base percentage recorded by a hitter this past decade was .474 (Joey Votto in 2012).

Here are the hitters Steamer projects to post the highest OBP in 2020

  1. Mike Trout (.440)
  2. Juan Soto (.407)
  3. Christian Yelich (.399)
  4. Alex Bregman (.396)
  5. Anthony Rizzo (.389)
  6. Cody Bellinger (.386)
  7. Freddie Freeman (.385)
  8. Bryce Harper (.383)
  9. Joey Votto (.383)
  10. Josh Donaldson (.379)

What I want to figure out is the probability that Mike Trout will post an OBP of at least .500 in a shortened 2020 campaign.

These projections you see above are the median projections (50th percentile). According to Steamer, in 2020, Trout is more likely to reach base in 44% of his plate appearances than any other percentage; however, he is not “likely” to reach base in precisely 44% of his plate appearances. It is simply a median/middle projection. Trout is just as likely to post an OBP below .440 as he is above.

(If I am not mistaken,) Steamer’s rate-statistic projections would not change due to a shortened season. Certainly, the amount of variability (and error) would increase.

In other words, if Mike Trout’s true-talent OBP is .440, there is a higher likelihood of Trout posting a .500+ OBP if he steps up to the plate 300 times in a season rather than 600 times.

In AP Statistics this past year, I spent a lot of time with normal models/distributions.

In a normal model, 68.3% of values are found within 1 standard deviation of the mean, 95.5% are found within 2 standard deviations, and 99.7% are found within 3 standard deviations. The frequency of a given value occurring decreases as one moves away from the mean.

Standardized test scores and IQ scores can be modeled by this type of distribution.

Graphic: AnalystPrep

Unfortunately, not everything can be modeled by a normal distribution.

For instance, K% for pitchers does not follow a normal distribution. The histogram of K% for pitchers who threw 30+ innings last season is skewed right; part of the reason is that relievers tend to record higher strikeout rates.

To determine the probability that Mike Trout records a .500 OBP next year, we will use a normal model!

The mean will be .440, which is equal to Steamer’s 2020 projection.

We will assume that Trout will accumulate exactly 300 PA in 2020.

Therefore, we can calculate the standard deviation to be .029 (2.9%).

That number comes from taking the square root of 300 (PA) * .440 (median/mean projection) * (1-.440) and then dividing by 300 (PA).

We can call Trout’s 2020 OBP x.

x ~ N (0.440, .029)

The y-axis shows the frequency of on-base percentages based on the normal model.

In 100 simulations of 300 plate appearances with Trout’s talent level being .440, you’d expect him to reach base 44 out of 100 times in roughly 14 of those simulations.

There is a 1.8% chance of Mike Trout posting an OBP of at least .500 in 2020 if we assume he steps up to the plate 300 times and that his true talent level OBP is .440.

The chance of it happening is improbable, but you never know with baseball.