Baseball statistics have fascinated Danvers resident Tim Goehlert for as long as he can remember. He and his childhood friends would study and quiz each other on the minutiae found on the backs of baseball cards.
Goehlert, now 30 and an active member of the Society for Baseball Research (SABR), eagerly studies the various online power rankings and has digested the massive compendiums such as “Bill James Baseball Abstract” and “Total Baseball” by Phil Birnbaum, John Thorn and John Deane. Over time, Goehlert formulated the idea for his self-published “Baseball Franchise Rankings,” which he finished in mid-March and released on Opening Day this year. The book is also available via Amazon.com.
“Ranking lists are really just somebody's opinion and I've always liked looking at them. It dawned on me that there was no source that explains how teams came close in a particular season but came up short, how they lost a postseason series, or how they were up by four games and then lost the last four games of the regular season. This shows what went wrong,” said Goehlert.
The 1999 graduate (and former Generals' first baseman) holds a bachelor's degree in business and marketing from in 2004.
Goehlert's weighted scoring system assigns points based on accomplishment with a World Series championship the most important. The system allowed Goehlert to look at numbers in two ways. The Total Master Chart ranks franchises from first to 3oth in terms of historical greatness while the Average Master Chart divides each franchise's total points by the number of seasons played as a way to level the playing field.
Either way you look at it, the New York Yankees rank first in each instance with 438.8 total points and an average of 3.99 points per season. Although they don't own the best postseason winning percentage – that distinction belongs to the Florida Marlins (.647) – the Yankees have won nine more World Series (27) than the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants (18 each) have appeared in.
The Boston Red Sox check in seventh on both the Total Master Chart (134.7 points) and Average Master Chart (1.22 per season). The Sox rank fifth all-time in regular-season winning percentage (.517) and eighth (.523) in the postseason.
“I wanted a system that was simple enough to understand by everyone but also had an appeal to stat geeks. I'm a statistics guy. I wanted this to be fun and compelling for fans of all ages and different lifestyles but I also wanted it to be cool and to make sense in terms of the history of baseball,” Goehlert said.
Each team has its own chapter that includes a statistical profile, listings showing when teams were very successful over a specific timeframe, “Did You Know” sections, summaries explaining how contenders fell short in a given season, and a chronological table of statistics. Finally, there are 60 pages of easily read and understandable reference tables.
“The Twins in 1981 were tied for the division lead with Kansas City, but lost six of their seven games and finished three games out. The Blue Jays in '87 were winning the AL East by three-and-a-half games over Detroit, but lost their final seven games, including three to the Tigers by one run,” Goehlert said. “And, of course, we all know what happened to the '86 Red Sox.”
Goehlert said the book would not have been possible without the support of his wife Rhiannon, to whom it is dedicated.
“She was very supportive. She grew up in Danvers (, Class of 2000) and we met in college. We had a new baby (Carter) on the way when I started this in 2008. I can't tell you how many Saturday nights she would read off statistics to me. This never would have happened without her help and support,” said Goehlert, who also thanked SABR Boston member Bill Nowlin for proofreading the manuscript.
Goehlert is now putting his marketing background to work. He is pitching the book to independent bookstores in the region, will be interviewed on an upcoming segment of Bob Lobel's radio show on WTPL-FM 107.7 in New Hampshire and will speak at the (June 1, 7 p.m.) and (June 8, 7 p.m.)
Goehlert, who this week started a new job at a Boston ad agency, is also working on a Web site that will apply his ranking formula to the four major sports and pursuing an MBA in marketing at Suffolk University. What's next?
“I'm not planning to write another book right now, but I do have other ideas, so most likely some day,” he said.
For more information, check out www.baseballfranchiserankings.com.