[A.J.] Ellis has ranked among the worst framers (catchers who get fewer strike calls than they should as measured by, again, Pitch f/x) in the majors the past few seasons. That put him in an uncomfortable situation this past winter with the Dodgers’ front office now in the hands of a coterie of highly sophisticated, analytically inclined decision-makers who believe strongly in the value of the pitch-framing metrics.
“I’ll be honest – I was motivated by the realization that that aspect of catching was becoming highly valued by this new wave of analytical front-office types,” said Ellis, who spent time during the off-season working to improve his pitch-framing skills with Milwaukee Brewers bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel. “And I knew that deficiency in the long run could affect my future employment.” ...
They have a very smart group of people upstairs. [Ellis said] They can isolate it… when they explained that to us in spring training, ran us through the process and laid it out for us, it strengthened my understanding of it and my commitment to what they’re doing – because they’re doing it the right way. It got me on board, is what I’m saying.” ...
Yasmani Grandal was already on board – without really knowing it.
Grandal does not have a reputation as a good defensive catcher. But he ranks very high as a pitch framer and that was a big factor in the Dodgers’ desire to acquire him from the San Diego Padres this winter…
Bad news for Ellis, though. While there are techniques that can improve the way a catcher receives the ball, pitch framing appears to be an innate skill that you either have or you don’t.
“The really interesting thing about framing for me is – it is pretty much one of, if not the, most persistent skills in baseball,” [GM Farhan] Zaidi said. “A batting average will fluctuate, a pitcher’s ERA will fluctuate way more than this metric of catcher framing will fluctuate… Obviously, Yasmani is working with an entirely different set of pitchers. He was a top-five framer last year. He’s a top-five framer now.”
Will Colon move to the AL to DH when his pitching days are over? He’s clearly a winner at the plate.
Bartolo Colon’s teams are 11-1 whenever he collects a hit. They’re an unblemished 6-0 when he drives in a run. Nobody’s perfect. But Colon’s teams are close to perfect whenever he puts on a batting clinic, even if that clinic has been closed most of the time.
He has 2,849 hits in the majors and is closing in on 3,000. He probably needs another season to do it, but Suzuki is exceptionally fit, and motivated. Asked how badly he wants to reach 3,000, he responded this way:
“That question is really similar to ‘Do you want to get a hit this at-bat?’ or ‘Do you want to go to the World Series?’ ” said Suzuki, who is 5 for 21 this season. “You want to get a hit every time you get up there, and everybody would love to go to the World Series. And I also know in one at-bat, you can’t get two hits. Of course that’s something I would want to do; that’s a given.”
The team, the league and the bats have changed. The pursuit rolls on.
This unconventional strategy is emblematic of the cutting edge of modern, in-game sabermetrics. With every team from the small-market Rays to the moneyed Dodgers now employing a host of analysts, all the obviously beneficial tactical techniques are already in use. All that remains are the scraps. So even as the tactics have become unconventional, the margins have become thin and the advantages minute. For clever front offices like the Rays, negotiating the brave new world of saber-equality may mean relying on subtle, trifling tweaks like reliever-first outings.
When it comes to producing MLB stars and Hall of Famers, in particular, some states have a leg up. So just which of the best ball player-producing states could claim the best fantasy lineups of all time?
Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis Stout
Northwest Brewing Joker Amber Ale
Black Raven Trickster IPA
Black Raven Session IPA
Fremont Interurban IPA
Iron Horse Brewing Irish Death
Spire Dark & Dry cider
Stone Brewing Company IPA
Schooner Exact King Street Brown
Pike 5X Stout
Pike Kilt Lifter
Pike Naughty Nellie
21st Amendment Watermelon wheat
7 Seas Port Royal stout
Full Sail Amber
Victory Prima Pils
Bale Breaker Top Cutter IPA
Rogue Hazlenut Brown Ale
Two Beers EVO IPA
Diamond Knot IPA
For the first time in four decades, the U.S. Supreme Court will have an opportunity to reconsider baseball’s notorious exemption from antitrust law. On Wednesday, the city of San Jose, California filed an appeal with the nation’s highest court, asking it to overturn professional baseball’s nearly century-old immunity from the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The appeal is the latest step in the litigation surrounding the Oakland A’s proposed move to San Jose. Back in 2013, the city sued Major League Baseball claiming that the league’s failure to approve the A’s relocation violated federal antitrust law. The district court dismissed the lawsuit later that same year, concluding that baseball’s exemption shielded MLB’s relocation decisions from antitrust scrutiny. That decision was upheld earlier this year by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
While these lower courts were constrained by a series of Supreme Court precedents exempting baseball from the Sherman Act, the Supreme Court itself is not bound to follow the prior rulings. So San Jose is asking the Court to seize this opportunity to overturn baseball’s highly controversial antitrust immunity. Like any appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, however, the odds that the Court will agree to take San Jose’s appeal are rather slim.
San Jose is hoping to convince the Supreme Court to take the case by arguing that baseball’s antitrust exemption is an outdated doctrine that is harming the public interest in a variety of ways. In its Petition for A Writ of Certiorari – the formal name of an appeal to the Supreme Court – the city argues that none of the original legal justifications for the exemption remain.
The Brooklyn club will celebrate tomorrow its twenty-fifth birthday, as it was on April 18, 1890, that the Dodgers played their first game in the National League, losing to Boston by a score of 15 to 9. This was a bad start, but the Brooklynites copped the pennant their first year out.
The Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers: April 18th’s Birthday Team.