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  1. This is fascinating.

    Comment by Dan — November 11, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

  2. This is really amazing. Too bad nobody paid any attention to him when he was writing…

    Comment by Adam K. — November 11, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  3. very interesting article

    Comment by Alex — November 11, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  4. Very interesting, I hope some ballclub gave F.P. Lane a job in the front office. It’s surprising to me that anyone in the dead ball era could have had 16.12% of his hits be home runs. Cravath must have been the Rob Deer of his time.

    Comment by baycommuter — November 11, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

  5. Interesting article, but isn’t what he’s describing just SLG% ?

    Comment by Bobby Ayala — November 11, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

  6. Not exactly, slugging % incorrectly equates a home run with four singles (total bases)…Lane’s method is a better (or at least more thought out) attempt at figuring out the true value of singles, doubles, etc. But you are correct that it doesn’t take walks into account–think of it as an midpoint between SLG and wOBA

    Comment by Sam Menzin — November 11, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  7. It’s time baseball cards and more importantly, baseball game broadcast analyts, opened up the public’s knowledge of info like this.

    Comment by Ron — November 11, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  8. a* midpoint

    Comment by Sam Menzin — November 11, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

  9. Awesome article! Thanks for sharing your extremely interesting finding.

    Comment by Kyle — November 11, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

  10. Lane went quite a bit further than this. He essentially went on to figure out the linear-weights run values of particular batting events, and was only percentage-points off from the values people eventually calculated sixty years later.

    If that’s not impressive enough yet, remember that he did this without a calculator, or computers to store all the data.

    Lane’s work is, IMO, one of the most amazing accomplishments of sports fanaticism in history.

    Comment by Paul Thomas — November 11, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  11. Wow. It had always bugged me to think that no one bothered to ponder these sorts of questions until recently…

    Comment by Oliver — November 11, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

  12. Sm – You wrote an unbelievable article. great job. Very Very interesting

    Comment by Leslie cavrell — November 11, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  13. Lane is the Archimedes of baseball. Archimedes invented the rudiments of calculus and proved physical laws with it, but all of this was forgotten after his death and rediscovered independently by Newton and Leibniz nearly 2000 years later.
    A similar thing happened with Lane’s work with a lesser time lapse.

    Comment by Husker — November 11, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

  14. Terrific article, very fascinating.

    Comment by MNzach — November 11, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

  15. Excellent article, and thanks for the link to the original article–I haven’t had the chance to read that yet, but I look forward to seeing his analysis in a pre-computer statistical world.

    Comment by Scott Lindholm — November 11, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

  16. This is absolutely superb.

    Comment by filihok — November 11, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

  17. “It is grotesqueries such as this that bring
    the whole foundation of baseball statistics into disrepute”

    This quote from page 47 where he is comparing Daubert and Cravath is pretty good.

    Comment by filihok — November 11, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  18. Didn’t Babe Ruth play his first MLB game in 1914?

    Comment by Nathan — November 11, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

  19. You young whippersnappers! Snicker. That was pretty terrific and it’s a real pity Lane wasn’t recognized in his time. Back then, sports writers were basically the hackiest of the hacks, paid basically to hang around saloons with ballplayers to get scuttlebutt or phone in a play-by-play. This guy was obviously really thinking about the sport and you did a great job of explaining what he was up to. I’ve been a fan for 50 years and had no idea someone was thinking that way until Rickey came along.

    BTW, my daughter is in the midst of writing her thesis this semester. Good luck to both of you and congrats on a really interesting article.

    Comment by PeteH — November 12, 2011 @ 3:37 am

  20. I don’t recall it dealing with this specific example-although it is a fabulous instance of early analytical thinking-but Alan Schwarz’s book, “The Numbers Game” does a wonderful job of tracing the development of statistical analysis from the 19th century origins of baseball. And one of the salient points of the book is that efforts to deepen our understanding of the game via stats has always been around, and there have always been debates about which numbers are most meaningful.

    Schwarz notes, for example, that for a time in the 19th century walks were counted as hits, essentially making BA really OBP. He also has a lengthy discussion of Lane’s efforts, noting that Lane also remarked on park effects as important in evaluating stats. Other early 20th century researchers kept records that anticipate sabermetric ideas.

    Comment by buddaley — November 12, 2011 @ 6:58 am

  21. Oops, I wrote the first paragraph without checking the Schwarz book and the second after looking at it again. Obviously he did deal, and at length, with the specific example of Lane’s evaluation of BA.

    Comment by buddaley — November 12, 2011 @ 7:00 am

  22. Somebody at Fangraphs hire this guy

    Comment by skillings24 — November 12, 2011 @ 10:23 am

  23. Great stuff. Thanks!!

    Comment by Kenos — November 12, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  24. I forgot to add this in my earlier comment–the fact that Lane was able to compile those stats, in that day when I’m not sure there were annual baseball statistical compilation. I doubt he went to the trouble to tabulate a year’s worth of box scores, but he also didn’t have FanGraphs and at his disposal. Using B-R, I was able to replicate his work in five minutes, and found minor variations due to updates in the records that have occurred over the years. These detract from neither Lane’s original work or the author’s outstanding article–it’s a rare feat to write something that generates nothing but positive comments.
    1915 NL Lane B-R
    Singles 7786 (77.44%) 7788 (76.80%
    Doubles 1488 (14.80%) 1555 (15.34%)
    Triples 554 (5.51%) 572 (5.64%)
    Homers 226 (2.24%) 225 (2.22%)

    Comment by Scott Lindholm — November 12, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  25. Well, Cravath was bit better than Daubert during his prime of 1912-1919 (38 WAR to 29 WAR), but Daubert had the better career (49-40 WAR), reaffirming the sabermatrics-era maxim that big, slow guys don’t age well.

    Comment by Babe Ruth — November 12, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  26. This is so cool! Thanks for sharing, Sam.

    Best of luck on your thesis.

    Comment by Adrastus Perkins — November 12, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  27. anyone else middle-click “Why the System of Batting Averages Should Be Changed:?”

    Comment by bill — November 12, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

  28. Great article!

    Comment by Jonathan C. Mitchell — November 12, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  29. Too cool.

    Comment by Bradley Woodrum — November 12, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

  30. Here’s the SABR bio on F.C. Lane, if you want to learn more about him:

    You can read all 175 Lane-written articles for Baseball Magazine (1909-1918) by searching here:

    Some of these are quite fascinating, as Sam discovered.

    Comment by Jacob — November 13, 2011 @ 12:43 am

  31. Just a note: You spelled Vaughan wraunghan – it’s Vaughn.

    Comment by Joe — November 13, 2011 @ 2:31 am

  32. “the outworn method of keeping batting averages” he calls our record keeping today. IMO, it’s his method is flawed too because he doesn’t take into account situations.

    Comment by dencimm — November 13, 2011 @ 11:34 am

  33. That was amazing. Un-believable.

    Comment by williams .482 — November 13, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  34. Very cool, very glad this was posted. loved it

    Comment by rwinter58 — November 13, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

  35. Here’s one where Lane questions whether the statistical batting records of the day (1918) are giving a crack Red Sox twirler who recently took up outfielding his proper due …

    Comment by reillocity — November 13, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  36. interesting analysis. puts a different slant on how we value players.may change arbitration approach.

    Comment by seth coren — November 13, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

  37. Very insightful

    Comment by Marissa C — November 13, 2011 @ 11:18 pm

  38. You hit a home run on this artlice! Truly enjoyed it. I always knew M.M. was better than .298 lifetime!!!

    Comment by Steve Carey — November 14, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  39. Wow, nice find! Very interesting stuff. I second the idea that FG hires you. :)

    Comment by Nathan — November 14, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  40. This is nuts!
    Proud to be a fan of the sport with the most analysis, statistics, and truth. Baseball exposes shams and uncovers gems like no other sport.
    I bet that hockey and other sports could benefit from similar statistical revolutions

    Comment by TimmyT — November 14, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

  41. Incredibly interesting stuff. Well researched and beautifully written. Bravo.

    Also love the Clubhouse Confidential shout out. A great foil to Intentional Talk’s mindless blather.

    Comment by saberbythebay — November 15, 2011 @ 12:36 am

  42. Great Job Samuel

    Comment by Matt B — November 15, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

  43. @Babe Ruth

    If you look more closely you will see that Cravath actually peaked between 31-38! He posted 3.2 WAR in only 255 plate apps at age 38. It seems like he aged quite well for a big lumbering slugger. He is a remarkable man in baseball history. Daubert had 4.4 WAR at age 38 in 700 plate appearances. Neither did much in the bigs after 38 so I would call it a wash. Cravath aged just as well. The dicrepancy in career WAR is due to Cravath wasting away in the PCL and Minors prior to his age 31 season.

    Comment by sheath1976 — November 17, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

  44. This is a terrific article! Of course, some of the credit for articles like this go to baseball history for having amazing things happen in it.

    Comment by Jon — November 21, 2011 @ 4:13 am

  45. In his weekly column the following Thursday, Murray Chass responded that while he might be a bit old to be keeping up with newfangled statistics, he could see that the analysis was flawed because Lane failed to assign a coin to the sacrifice bunt in his change metaphor.

    Comment by juan pierres mustache — November 30, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  46. Great job, and thanks for linking to the original, super-fascinating article. I certainly agree with Lane’s opinion that “statistics are the most important part of baseball.”

    Comment by steve — December 1, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  47. Menzin has written an outstanding article; cogent, articulate, and fascinating.

    (minor quibble: by the time Lane’s 1915-1916 article was published, the Sultan had already acquired one of his 7 rings.)

    Comment by Garrett Hawk — December 3, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

  48. Just want to give high praise to this article, what a find! Of course, I’m at work today working on implementing an algorithm that was invented in 1975 on a processor that was invented in 2011, so i’m sure this would be a far less isolated event if we had all of these articles properly cataloged!

    Comment by mikeNicoletti — December 22, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  49. Would be interesting to see Lane’s view on OBP. Rickey himself valued it highly well before it became a standard.

    Comment by AA — December 31, 2011 @ 3:35 am

  50. it’s cool, what make me surprise is that why nobody paid attention to it for such a long time?

    Comment by Kreg — January 15, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

  51. This FC Lane article (actaully, multiples articles) has been making the rounds in sabermetric circles for quite some time now. I have made it required reading in my Sabermetrics 101 class at Tufts for the last 4-5 years.

    Nice job Sam!

    Comment by Andy Andres — January 19, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  52. Nice article and great research Sam…

    Comment by bknight47 — January 21, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

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