Sunday, November 22, 2020

I Know My Calculus

Last week I put out a challenge to see if anyone could come up with a PG13 subject and try to stump me from associating it to an Andrew McCutchen collectible in my collection.  I entered all the suggestions into list randomizer and atop was calculus.

If you watched MTV in the early 2000s you may remember a fake boy band called 2ge+her which had a "hit song" Calculus.  That song tried to simplify the term Calculus by saying "I know my Calculus cause you plus me equals us".  While that could be considered a calculation, calculus is just a bit more complex than that.

Calculus is a mathematical understanding of changing values that relate to a function.  It is because of this that sabermetric stats use a form of calculus to look at different values of baseball.

Baseball cards as we know them in their current Topps format began with 1952 Topps.  

We are all familar with the design as Topps has used it many times over the decades since it's original release.
This is the black diamond parallel insert from 2011.
The back perfectly captures the original card backs and statistics shared.  Pretty simple calculations for hitting and fielding.  

Things changed in 2015 when Topps began to insert different card backs known as sabermetric backs.
The card fronts looked identical to a normal base card, but the card backs began to spotlight different statistics not normally on card backs.
These included stats like Onbase Plus Slugging, isolated power, weighted runs created, Wins Above Replacement, and percentage of walking or striking out.
These stats have become common talk among "newer" fans of the game who look at statistics beyond just batting average and Runs Batted In.

Topps took it to another step in 2020 when they released their sabermetric parallels that were serially numbered on back to 300 copies.
These statistics use the Statcast program at MLB stadiums to track a player's approach at the plate.  It looks at how many times the player barreled up a ball (regardless of outcome), % of hard hit balls (regardless of outcome), exit velocity, among some others.  These help to capture how well the player is approaching a pitch.  A barreled up line drive to an outfielder may result in an out, but a lil dabbled swinging bunt between the pitcher and third base may result in a hit.  Obviously it's betyer to get on base, but the player who hit the scorcher had the better approach at the plate.
As you can see on the card back, Cutch is still way above league average in many of these categories.  Remember he got injured early June 2019 and missed essentially 4 months of the season due to a torn ACL.

So there you go, a changing value of using integers to calculate a player's worth.  Sounds similar to calculus to me, so I guess I passed this exam.


  1. This post has to be right up Fuji’s alley for sure!

  2. So did you arrive at your last paragraph using integration or differentiation or something else?

  3. I'm not sure what's more impressive:

    A. You knew that song.

    B. You were able to write a post about Cutch cards and calculus.

  4. He does look better in a Phillies uniform.