The Great Brassball Career Statistics Project
By Andy Wiesner

Quite sometime ago, I took an interest in trying to fill in some of the holes that had developed in the Brassball League's history.  This probably began as I was looking at the single season leaders that Vaughn Nuest puts together.  Vaughn clearly put in a lot of time on that project, and I'm sure that we are all grateful for his efforts.  It's fantastic to know that Tony Gwynn had 294 hits in 1995 and that Mariano Rivera had 65 saves in 1997.  This led me to wonder, however, who had the most career hits and saves in Brassball history? 

Finding the answer to those two questions would not be an easy thing.  Not only were the career leaders not tabulated, but it took me months to simply find the raw statistics from each of the seasons that would be used to calculate them.  I contacted all of the usual suspects looking for the stats: League Directors, present and past, the former website coordinator and veteran league members.  Several people were able to help, and gave me big chunks of the league history all at once.  Brian Budzyn was particularly helpful, as I still have hundreds of pages of old newsletters that he has loaned me.  Kevin Kolb, Vaughn Nuest, Lenny Luchtefeld and Mark Lentz were also able to provide some of the information I was looking for. 

Once I was able to get my hands on as much information as I could find, I realized just how big this project would be.  Throughout this process, I had been discussing the project with Joal Kjarsgaard, partially because he had the same desire to uncover the league history, and partially because I knew that I would need some help in entering the pages of statistics I had collected.  From early on, Joal and I agreed that we'd work on this, but neither of us really knew how to approach it. 

For months after getting copies of the statistics, Joal and I struggled with creating the right format for the stats.  Originally, the plan was to manually enter all of the stats into the Strat-O-Matic program itself, and then use the Encyclopedia feature to compile them for us.  Joal started working on that, and soon learned that the program wouldn't work as we had wanted it to.  That meant that we needed to find another method.  The obvious choice was to build a huge Excel file and use Access to manipulate the data.  It probably took us six months to get to the point where we were ready to begin the data entry, mostly because we were unsure of how to proceed.  For a few more months the project stalled, as we turned our attention to other matters. 

Then, Joal came to my house for the March, 2002 Brassball Draft, and we found ourselves once again thinking about the career stats we had talked about off and on for so long.  Finally, we decided that we just needed to start entering the data, and we'd figure out later how to manipulate it.  We broke up the project, and I entered the 1995, 97, 99 seasons, and Joal taking 1996 and 1998.  The 2000 and 2001 seasons would be somewhat easier, but still required substantial manipulation to get them into the format we needed. 

The data entry took the two of us at least 20 hours.  I know that I worked for a dozen hours myself, and probably many more.  Once we had the data entered and proofread, we realized we still had a long way to go. 

First, we were missing six teams from the 1999 season.  I'm still extremely disappointed that we don't have full statistics, especially considering the stats we're missing are only two years old.  I hold out hope that we will one day fill in this last hole, but we decided to go ahead with the project despite the missing teams.  For the record, the 1999 teams we still are missing are all in the American League: Box City Parcelmen, Cook County Maulers, Iowa Rubes, Monroeville Garys and Plaza Lions.  If you think you might have stats for any of these teams, please let me know, as we'll happily spend the few hours it will take to reproduce all of the information and tables we have here. 

Unfortunately, these six missing teams have some of the best players in league history on them, meaning that these players career totals will be incomplete.  Among the more notable players with missing stats are Barry Bonds, Vladimir Guerrero, Mike Piazza and Kevin Brown.  I'm sure you'll notice many more.  We wish that weren't the case, but there is nothing we can do about it without additional help from the league. 

In addition to the missing teams, we found many inconsistencies in the stats, most likely due to the manual production of the stats in the early years of the league.  Some teams season totals are off in games started, wins and losses or other stats.  We've made educated guesses where possible, but some of these cases are impossible to solve.  I am confident that the stats we have produced are no less accurate than the paper copies we received, and are, in most cases, much more accurate. 

Once the stats were entered, Joal and I knew that we needed help to manipulate the data as we wanted.  Luckily, a college friend of ours, Ed Wallander, was willing to lend his professional expertise to us in this project.  Ed works for Third Wave Research Group and crunches data for a living, so some of the things that would take us hours take him only moments to complete.  In addition to the hours Joal and I spent, Ed has put in at least a dozen hours of his own time, even though he's not even a part of Brassball.  You don't know Ed, but if you're at all interested in the results you see, you owe him a big thank you.   

Once Ed got his hands on our excel files, he combined them and set up the queries and formulas that we'd need to combine the thousands of entries into usable form.  He has spent hours reworking the format to make it more user friendly for Joal and myself, as we don't understand the programs as fully as he does.  Without his help, this project would have taken much longer than it already has, and the final result would be much less useful. 

Finally, Joal and I are still uncovering slight errors.  If you see something that looks odd, or out of place, please feel free to let us know.  We know this will be an evolving product, and we're sure it will only get better with time, and more people looking at it.   

As you can see, this project was quite an undertaking.  The only reason we started this was because we thought it would be both interesting and valuable to the league.  We hope you agree.