When Do Small Samples Become Meaningful?

0 Comments | May 31, 2017

The second week of April is an interesting time in the MLB season. We can no longer simply look at 2017 projections, as we have new, albeit limited, information.Christian Yelich Jersey Plus, who wants to look back to where we were a week and a half ago. We have actual numbers to run with now.

At the same time, most of the numbers we have are nowhere close to meaningful. It can be fun to look at possible changes to individual players,Ichiro Suzuki Jersey but the articles have to be so laced with small sample size caveats that it can be distracting.

So how much longer do we have to wait until some of those statistics begin to stabilize? Thanks to the hard work of Russell Carlton over at FanGraphs, there is a general guideline for stabilization points for most metrics in today’s game. Obviously these points aren’t absolute, one player can take a bit longer to stabilize while another may be locked in right from the jump.Andre Dawson Jersey But this analysis gives us some frame of references for statistical discussions.

Below we take a look at some of the first statistics that stabilize. In each case we identify a Rays player for whom that indicator is especially noteworthy. We also provide a projected date when the stabilization plateau will be reached.

Batters

60 PA: Strikeout Rate – Steven Souza Jr. (Game 16,Adeiny Hechavarria Jersey April 19)

Strikeout rates are presumed to stabilize quickly, and that will be especially interesting for Rays fans who have been puzzling over Steven Souza Jr.’s newfound plate discipline. In Souza’s first two seasons with the Rays, he struck out more than a third of the time. Striking out may not carry as big a penalty for a hitter as we once believed,Edinson Volquez Jersey but a 33+% K rate makes it extremely difficult to post a serviceable on-base percentage.

So far this season, Souza has struck out less than 10 percent of the time (9.1% to be exact). With six walks compared to just three strikeouts over 33 plate appearances, Souza is over halfway to reaching the 60 plate appearance point. The news is good all around, as the plate discipline statistics from FanGraphs also show a decided difference in approach from Souza this season

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