There are times when I wonder why I have this site, if it’s worth the trouble, and if anyone really reads it. Then there are other times, like today, where I receive a piece of research unexpectedly and it feels like Christmas. I guess that means Nevada’s head coach Matt Meuchel is Santa Clause.
Matt, who is known in softball circles as a numbers person, just sent me a package of softball research. I will try to release some of these stats on a daily basis. A big thank you to Matt for sharing!
Recently I wrote about some offensive trends in softball. Matt’s numbers go much farther than mine and thus provide a richer picture of trends in D-I softball. Here are runs per game, per team since 1982.
Scoring in D-I softball hit its low point in 1986 at just 3.02 runs per game, per team. Scoring peaked last year at 4.81, a remarkable increase of 63 percent.
Matt looked at the relationship between batting average and scoring and found a strong correlation. Batting average accounts for 84.46% of the variance in scoring over the past 35 seasons in D-I softball. The strength of this relationship is also shown by how closely each point below is located in relation to the trendline.
According to my rough estimate every 10 points of batting average accounts for a change in scoring of about .25 runs per game. If I take a leap and infer that a team increases its batting average by 10 points, over the course of a 50 game season that team can expect to score 12.5 more runs. Plugging that number back into the formula for the Pythagorean Theorem, such an increase would mean 1 more win for that team.
One element of batting average is home runs. Part of the problem with batting average is that it treats all hits (singles, doubles, triples, and home runs) equally. In reality we know that all hits aren’t created equal since a home run is much more valuable than a single. Matt also looked at whether scoring correlates with home runs.
With an R2 or coefficient of determination of .7292, scoring correlates quite well with just home runs. Using the example before of a 50 game season, if your team were to hit around six more home runs each season I would expect you to win one more game.
Matt also found that there is little relationship between stolen bases per game and the number of runs that are scored.
What is interesting to me is that even in years where the run-scoring environment was low, the number of bases that were stolen doesn’t appear to correlate to the number of runs scored. This seems to reinforce my previous research on stolen bases which showed that it’s not the number of bases that a team steals but how efficiently they do it that matters.
Thank you again Matt! Much more to come.