The Importance of Hometown Scorers to Pete Rose

Pete Rose was for a portion of his career one of the best in baseball history at reaching base on an error. Given his reputation for hustle and his career as primarily a ground ball, non-extra base hitter, this seems to fit well with the overall image. However, his number of ROE (reach on errors) declines precipitously twice in his career, once at the height of the Big Red Machine and again at the end of his career. Interestingly, the numbers vary by whether he was at home or on the road. Let me run the numbers for you to show you the findings.  Make of them what you will.

Rose’s ROE numbers are available, along with his home/road splits, via Retrosheet. Baseball-Reference makes it easiest to calculate at what point in Rose’s career various events occurred.

ROE Home Road
1963 12 4 8
1964 11 7 4
1965 11 5 6
1966 10 6 4
1967 19 11 8
1968 6 3 3
1969 13 5 8
1970 16 7 9
1971 12 7 5
1972 9 2 4
1973 19 5 14
1974 14 6 8
1975 6 2 4
1976 6 3 3
1977 9 5 4
1978 12 5 7
1979 11 6 5
1980 13 7 6
1981 10 5 5
1982 10 3 7
1983 9 4 5
1984 8 5 3
1985 6 2 4
1986 2 1 1

What happens in the two dips? While it is true that the Reds are in the midst of consecutive World Series in the first dip, it is also the time at which Rose is approaching 3,000 hits. From 1973-1977, Rose’s reaches base on an error 54 times, 21 at home and 33 on the road. Yet he has almost identical numbers of plate appearances in both locations. From 1963 to 1972, though, Rose reached on an error 119 times, 57 at home and 59 on the road. During the second dip, Rose is challenging Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record. From 1981 to 1986, Rose reaches on an error 45 times, 20 at home and 25 on the road. From 1978 to 1980, in contrast, Rose reached 36 times, 18 at home and 18 on the road. So what do we have? Hard to say. There is room for questioning the objectivity of hometown scorers when a player with nearly identical home/road splits on a judgment call like an error suddenly develops a split when approaching 3,000 hits or the all-time hit record. These splits occur regardless of home park, meaning this is not just a product of Cincinnati. But the numbers are tiny. With any numbers this small, the variation could easily be random. Nevertheless, I find the information interesting enough to pass along.

Now we can sit back and wait for the Hall of Fame results to roll in.

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4 Comments on “The Importance of Hometown Scorers to Pete Rose”

  1. Millsy Says:

    Interesting points. I think a graph of the data would help to visualize things. Out of curiosity I did it myself in Excel and it’s tough to decipher anything outside of the 1973 season. However, looking at a paired t-test of the ROE at Home and Away for the years 1973-1977 and 1981-1986, our p-value approaches significance at p= 0.058 for a one-tailed test (since your hypothesis is a directional one that he was getting some help at home for the milestones). But we’d also be picking and choosing a fairly long stretch where we ‘see’ this happening in the first place.

    Very interesting points. I’m curious if we see this with other players in history as they approach the milestones like 3,000 hits. Maybe with a bunch more data, and defining the number of seasons before 3,000 hits (maybe 2 or 3) there could be something to this.

  2. sportsphd Says:

    Given how few ROE we were dealing with, I didn’t want to go to the effort of doing a difference of means test. I agree that we would need more comparison cases to prove anything. That is why I left it as open-ended as I could. Is the phenomenon real? I don’t know, but I do consider the numbers at least suggestive.

  3. Millsy Says:

    Agreed. Though it could be interesting with more data. Another good question would be whether or not we see certain peripherals changing around a milestone due to the player changing what he does on the field. That may be a much harder question to answer, given the fluctuation in a lot of statistics. Maybe BABIP increases? Line drive rate increases while fly balls and strikeouts decrease? I don’t know. Maybe someone has looked into that before (and it could have implications on incentive-laden contracts as well for players).

  4. verdun2 Says:

    Also might point out that an official scorer can effect an pitcher’s era by determining an error vs. a hit. Wonder if it’s worse at home.

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