Wednesday, October 29, 2014

HarbourCats Record Book unveiled

Bryan Conant
I found myself on a number of occasions last summer trying to figure out if something that happened in a HarbourCats game was a first for the young franchise. In most cases I had a vague idea of the answer, but given my faulty memory I still had to spend time searching through old box scores to come up with an answer for which I had close to 100% confidence. I realized that this process would take progressively longer as the seasons rolled by, so I came up with the idea of creating a record book for the Victoria HarbourCats and making it publicly available so that fans, the media and the HarbourCats front-office could just help themselves to the information.

Of course, finding the time to take on this task is easier said than done, but I managed to do just that over the last few weeks. Not only is it the off-season, but I recently underwent major knee surgery and found myself with considerably more free cycles at home than I would normally have. Rather than manually slogging through two years' worth of box scores, I decided to make good use of that Mathematics and Computer Science degree and come up with a record book that is as close to being error-free as possible.

After a fair bit of effort, I am pleased to present the first two chapters of the HarbourCats Record Book: Individual Pitching Records (Game) and Team Pitching Records (Game). You can view these records by clicking on the previous two hyperlinks. In addition, these links also appear on the right-hand side of every blog page under the heading “HarbourCats Record Book.”

The chapters above are actually the two smallest sections of the record book, but I’ll roll out the remainder of the records over the next few days. The other recently-completed chapters are:
  • Individual Batting (Game) - 14 record categories
  • Individual Batting (Season) - 22 categories
  • Team Batting (Game) - 16 categories
  • Individual Pitching (Season) - 29 categories
Ty Provencher was on fire in 2013 
I also plan on adding chapters for career batting and pitching records, but I'll hold off until the completion of the 2015 season before doing so. There just aren't enough players who have played more than one season for the HarbourCats to make these records meaningful at this point.

The beauty of compiling these records is that it provides context for each achievement, and I was amazed at the insight that I gained during the generation of the record book. For instance, I really have a better appreciation of just how dominant Bryan Conant was in 2013. Conant hurled three of the four best starts in HarbourCats history (who knew?) and he posted a sparkling 1.81 ERA and 0.94 WHIP that season.

How did I discover that Conant tossed three of the four best starts in HarbourCats history? Using Bill James’ Game Score metric, I was able to calculate a number that measures the effectiveness of each and every pitching appearance over the team’s first two seasons. Doing so uncovered Conant’s memorable start on August 3rd, 2013, in which he threw nine scoreless innings but took a no-decision in a hard-luck 10-inning loss in Walla Walla, Washington. That start registered a Game Score of 85 -- definitely a great outing, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the record eclipsed by a HarbourCat hurler in the next year or two. As a point of reference, check out the top Game Scores in MLB this season on the ESPN web site.

Our regular readers know that we don’t own a pair of rose-coloured glasses at the HarbourCats Baseball Blog, so I have also included measures of futility in the record book. This leads to an obvious question: Who had the worst start in HarbourCats history? Turns out that it’s none other than Andrew Nelson, thanks to a particularly malodorous outing on August 9th of this year that registered a Game Score of five (yes, it's possible to notch a negative Game Score). After re-reading Bubba’s post on that game, it’s understandable that the normally sunny blogger came across as a little cranky -- Nelson’s stinker came just one day after Logan Lombana set the previous team low. Yikes, talk about stumbling to the season's finish line.

One of the main goals of this little project was to help document the highs and the lows in HarbourCats history, and I hope that I have done so. I have no doubt that the upcoming season will see many of these records broken, especially the positive ones. Stay tuned for the release of the remainder of the records in the near future.

1 comment:

  1. The record book is now complete. Tip: You can access each page of the record book via links under the heading "HarbourCats Record Book" on the right-hand side of each blog page.