How the SingleSteal (SSM) cost Mike Piazza the Hall of Fame

mike-piazza-black-blue.jpgOne of the most underrated statistics to me in baseball is the Singlesteal metric or SSM.

The SSM considers an offensive player’s ability to generate runs on his own without having to consider the lineup in which he bats or the actions of the other players in the lineup.

In a nutshell, a player with high SSM can put himself in scoring position. Singles and steals are added together. Two base errors are ignored. Since doubles its its own stat it is not part of SSM. SSM is also seen as more disruptive than a double since the runner is temporarily on first and can be distracting to the pitcher, thus helping his teammates lower in the order.

Similarly, for SSM the walk is considered a measure of either defensive strategy or ineptitude rather than a reflection of a batter’s ability to get to second on his own.

In the case I a fielders choice the batter is not rewarded with SSM because he is merely replacing a teammate who was halfway there on his own.

Look at a player like Vince Coleman who had an SSM of 249 in 1985 or Rickey Henderson’s 235 in 1981. Or conversely Coleman’s sub-par years with the Mets amassing at best an SSM of 118 in 1993.

I bring this up because Randy Medina of The Apple tweeted the below.

@metspolice Piazza does not even deserve to be in the #Mets HOF. In his years with the Mets not once did he lead the team in Singlesteals.
1/10/13 8:05 PM

That may be what the BBWAA was looking at when they did not elect him as a first ballot HOFer. Sure he might have hit a lot of Home Runs, but many of his RBI’s were made on the backs of folks like, yes, Rickey Henderson who had an SSM of 133 for the 1999 Mets. If Rickey isn’t on second then Piazza can’t knock him in. RBI is reliant on the behavior of other players, SSM focuses on the player.

I know advanced stats can be confusing to a lot of older readers, but I think it’s important to take a deeper look at statistics rather than just looking at someone’s traditional average/HR/RBI totals. These are the types of folks who think OPS is stupid since all it is is slamming two numbers together. OPS is one of the metrics most folks look at now, and SSM is not far behind. To look at Hall of Fame ballots excluding Piazza it must be inferred that a writer prefers SSM over the old-school stats, and – this is the point of the SSM – without teammates providing opportunites, Piazza was not as good as say Roger Cedeno.

Randy makes an excellent observation here, and I think it provides clarity. The writers were smarter than the rest of us and ahead of the advanced stats curve.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at pitching – and again using the 1999 Mets as an example – how Armando Benitez’ 30 WinSaves (WS) were of way more value to the club than Al Leiter’s 13 WS.

Seaver's HoF Induction In The Papers
The last Mets jersey

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