Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nine Years of Congressional Baseball Game Stats

This year's Congressional Baseball Game—the 84th iteration of the renowned partisan pastime—is less than a month away (specifically, on June 14—buy a ticket, it's for a good cause!), so it's time to update my database of statistics for the annual charity game. Yes, that's right—I'm so obsessed with numbers that I have some that show how good or bad members of Congress are at baseball.

This Google spreadsheet is based on the leaderboards page over at FanGraphs. It has not only the "Standard" stats like hits and RBI, but also FanGraphs's "Advanced" and "Value" stats, calculated the exact same way the sabermetric site defines them. If you want to know Tim Ryan's wRC+ or Rand Paul's WAR, this is the place to go. The spreadsheet goes back through the 2009 Congressional Baseball Game, thanks to box scores generously provided to me by the game's official scorers. It's not comprehensive—for instance, there are no batted-ball stats, and fielding is too hard to measure in a game whose defensive alignments change more often than the softball match at your latest family reunion—but it's enough to show us who's just playing for fun and who the truly feared players should be on June 14.

The highlights: Cedric Richmond, Congress's Shohei Ohtani, is now up to 2.3 WAR, eight times higher than anyone else's total. Seven of the game's nine best players by WAR are Democrats. And you'll notice a lot of lineup fixtures are leaving Congress after this year: the Democrats' Jared Polis, the Republicans' Jeff Flake, Tom Rooney, Ryan Costello, and Bill Shuster. (And Democrats' Joe Donnelly may very well lose his re-election bid.) By this time next year, the leaderboards could look very different: it's possible that John Shimkus, Chris Murphy, and Kevin Brady will be the only pre-2009 players left.