Cape Cod Baseball by the Numbers

by Greg in

capecod_map2.jpgNumbers don't lie, but they do tell the story of the Cape Cod Baseball League better than any verbose blog. Of active major leaguers in 2006 who came from four year colleges, 37.28 percent played on the Cape.

111 of those players were hitters and 81 were pitchers.

The average CCBL player who was drafted hit .245 in the Cape League and .241 in the New York Penn League (Class A-short season).

These stats come to us this week courtesy of two of the best articles I've seen all year about the Cape Cod Baseball League. Both postings are deeply rooted in the kind of statistical research that inspires baseball hacks like me. (In fact, here is my chance to plug the must-have book, Baseball Hacks -- tips and tools for analyzing and winning with stats.

The first article examines the increasing number of Cape League Players who reach the major leagues. Wareham's GM and the league's statistician, John Wylde, is the source of this excellent reporting.

The second article is written by Matt Wallace who writes the blog Talking Tigers. Matt's article is an elegant piece of statistical analysis that examines "the difference between the average Cape Cod League player and the players who were drafted."

Increasing Numbers

The CCBL article (apparently written by Robin Burns) features Wyldes' analysis of Cape league players who went on to pro ball and the big leagues.

The CCBL article attempts to make one argument that I did not find compelling. It cites the hitter-to-pitcher ratio of Cape players drafted into the pros. It reports there are 111 hitters and just 81 pitchers. They report these numbers as a means of refuting claims that the CCBL is more a pitchers' league than a hitters' league. The Cape wants to portray itself as more evenly divided between hitting prospects and pitching talent. But given the overall hitter to pitcher ratio in baseball it's clear that the CCBL is in fact more of a pitchers' league.

If I meet no one else this summer on the Cape, I hope to meet John Wylde. To the casual observer (me), he seems to be the brain (and perhaps the voice) of the Cape League. I believe he is responsible for the orderly gathering and sharing of Cape player and team stats each summer. Thank you, Mr. Wylde.

Finally, I can only be left to think from the posting that this article -- which favorably argues that the Cape league is a primary supplier of players for the MLB -- is in fact designed to justify for MLB executives the financial support MLB provides for the summer league. It certainly makes a strong case for MLB support.

"Given these results, the CCBL can justify the support it gets from Major League Baseball," the post argues. "Also, these numbers confirm for the scouts who come to the Cape League games every summer that they will be watching the best college players in the coutnry, many of whom will eventually play in the big leagues."

How Does the Cape Cod League Rate?

Equally impressive is Matt Wallace's statistical analysis. Matt uses Clay Davenport's (formerly Baseball Prospectus) statistical analysis and modeling, which compares North American pro leagues to the Japanese majors.

The crux of the analysis is his Common Plate Appearance (CPA) which takes the lowest number of plate appearances in one league to compare with the same number of plate appearances in the other. For example, Todd Davison had 160 plate appearances in the CCBL in 2005 and 174 plate appearances in the NY Penn League in 2006. That means he counted as having 160 common plate appearances.

Here is what the average player in the CCBL and the pro NY-Penn League looked like: (Gross Productive Avg./On-base Percentage/SLG):

CCBL -- .245/.352/.348

NY Penn -- .241/.327/.373

According to Matt: This "leads me to believe that the level of baseball is a pretty good approximation of what you'd be seeing if you took a trip east to see, say, brewster play Falmouth."

Matt does a good job of also adding appropriate caveats to his analysis.