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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Baseball Statisticians Unveil New Analytics Model Measuring Precise Amount Of Joy They Suck From The Game

Saying the breakthrough would change baseball statistics forever, the Society Of American Baseball Research unveiled a new analytics model Friday that measures the precise amount of joy their work sucks from the game.

Master of the Horse Posted: August 25, 2018 at 03:37 PM | 152 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: analytics, bill james, theonion

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   101. Lassus Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:56 AM (#5734101)
Carnivals?
   102. Greg K Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:57 AM (#5734102)
Fragmenting of the audience would affect all sports equally. Baseball is now the third or fourth sport, other than with old white farts. Horse racing was once a major sport too.

Hmm. Maybe it's because players don't swing their arms when they run the bases anymore?
   103. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:57 AM (#5734103)
Cut the amount of games down to 144 games.

No. Moar baseball is good.

Baseball sucks.

Grow up.
   104. Rennie's Tenet Posted: August 27, 2018 at 09:17 AM (#5734108)
Horse racing was once a major sport too.


Maybe it's because players don't swing their arms when they run the bases anymore?


It doesn't add up. Horses move their arms quite a bit when they run.
   105. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 09:21 AM (#5734111)
Horse racing was never a major sport or if it was then all major sports back when horse racing was a major sport were really minor affairs. It's not like the horsetrack in NY or Miami or Chicago had 50,000 to 100,000 spectators in the stands every single day. They had big race days just like they do nowadays. They had memorable horses just like they do nowadays. Your average Joe in Peoria, IL in 1935 had no idea what was going on on some racetrack in NY on any given day, week, month, or year just like nowadays and they probably had no idea what was going on at the local track either.
   106. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2018 at 09:49 AM (#5734116)
Horse racing was never a major sport or if it was then all major sports back when horse racing was a major sport were really minor affairs. It's not like the horsetrack in NY or Miami or Chicago had 50,000 to 100,000 spectators in the stands every single day. They had big race days just like they do nowadays. They had memorable horses just like they do nowadays. Your average Joe in Peoria, IL in 1935 had no idea what was going on on some racetrack in NY on any given day, week, month, or year just like nowadays and they probably had no idea what was going on at the local track either.

That's not true at all. BITD, meaning as recently as the 1970's in some cases, the sports sections of newspapers regularly carried the complete racing results from their own area and at selected major tracks around the country, along with employing at least one or sometimes two full time racing reporters. There was far more year around coverage of racing than there was of basketball or even football.

Before the states took over the numbers racket, and gambling was undercover, there was a large subculture of bettors who would bet on the races all over the country with the same regularity as many people today buy a lottery ticket. And the number of the day was often keyed to the results at a race track when it wasn't keyed to the closing DJA.

And yes, plenty of average Joes in Peoria were placing regular bets on races at Belmont or Hialeah or even Santa Anita. Western Union wasn't invented yesterday.

You missed all of this because of your age, and I missed 90% of it because of mine. But before WW II and even a bit beyond, horse racing was every bit as important a part of American culture as the numbers game, pool rooms, bowling alleys and boarding houses. Not that it ever rivaled baseball as our National Pastime, but like boxing back then, it had a far greater reach into the public consciousness than it does today.
   107. bobm Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:00 AM (#5734117)
Football, with increasing consciousness of the dangers of concussions and related violence, is more likely IMO than baseball to go the way of boxing and horse racing. Look at the NFL rule change on tackling trying to address the problem; it is met with skepticism by fans and players resisting the change far greater than the catcher and second baseman collision rules in MLB.
   108. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:03 AM (#5734118)
That's not true at all. BITD, meaning as recently as the 1970's in some cases, the sports sections of newspapers regularly carried the complete racing results from their own area and at selected major tracks around the country, along with employing at least one or sometimes two full time racing reporters. There was far more year around coverage of racing than there was of basketball or even football.


That doesn't make it a major sport nor that people were following it. You could also get back in the 1950's and such community baseball and bowling results that doesn't make them major sports leagues. I doubt they do it nowadays but back in the early to mid 90's the Chicago Tribune had track results for Arlington (possibly another local track as well) and the races for that day. That didn't mean horse racing was a major sport in the 1990's.

And yes, plenty of average Joes in Peoria were placing regular bets on races at Belmont or Hialeah or even Santa Anita. Western Union wasn't invented yesterday.

I didn't miss it because you are overstating it and assuming that my statement that exactly no one followed horse racing. The argument was that horse was not a major sport like baseball was BITD not that nobody followed or bet on a horse race.

But before WW II and even a bit beyond, horse racing was every bit as important a part of American culture as the numbers game, pool rooms, bowling alleys and boarding houses.

Well, there you go. You are imparted this segment of the American culture as large and I guess as major sports but I am not. Some people played, some people bowled, some people bet on horses or on lotteries. Some people do all of that stuff nowadays. Possibly not to the same percentages as they did then I would grant.
   109. BDC Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:10 AM (#5734119)
I'll second Andy's impression of the pervasiveness of interest in the horses BITD. One of my father's first jobs out of high school (in 1948) was as a runner/office-boy at a racing-form publisher in Chicago. Information would come in over the wires from everywhere, and the paper was a major publication that definitely got trucked out to Peoria early the next morning so that the local fans could do their handicapping.

As to baseball, I think the worry isn't about 2018 vs. 1953 ('zop's 65-year timeframe). In that span, MLB per-game attendance has doubled and there are almost twice as many teams. And the population of the US has a little more than doubled. Relative to people's interest in life in general, MLB is doing well over 65 years. That it's doing relatively less well vs. NFL, NBA, MLS or whatever is beside the point. People are more interested in sports overall, so what? They're still pretty interested in baseball.

The worry is about 2018 vs. 2016 (as a new thread today examines), whether the recent decline signals a trend, or is a bit illusory, or means not much at all. I don't think we have a very good handle on the whys of it. One can say, "I don't like X, Y, Z development; attendance is down; therefore X, Y, Z are why baseball is doomed." But it's not yet clear if that's the case or if there really is a case. Maybe attendance will go back up in 2019.
   110. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5734131)
Ok, but there are a bunch of people employed because of the popularity of Magic the Gathering, there is a ton of information out there about what is going on on a daily basis in Magic: The Gathering that doesn't make M:TG a major sport or a major/ubiquitous activity for the population of America.


Spending pennies to make dollars doesn't mean it was a huge sport.
   111. bobm Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5734132)
[91]
Keith Hernandez, doing the Mets and teamed along with long-ago ex-player Ron Darling and broadcaster Gary Cohen, is still great to listen to.

So you support throwing at a player for the offense of hitting too many homers as a rookie?


It's part of baseball. He did not get hit on the head. The most prominent ex-player who professed outrage, Mets nemesis Larry "Chipper" Jones, is an on-the-record hypocrite, anyhow. He has his own set of rules for when it is okay for a Braves pitcher to go after a young star with an HBP.

NY Post: "‘Next level bulls–t’: Braves are furious with Keith Hernandez" (August 16, 2018)

Former Braves star Chipper Jones, inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame this year in his first year of eligibility, turned the argument back on Hernandez and the Mets, pondering how the NL East rivals would feel if their best pitcher, Jacob deGrom, received the same treatment.

“So by this way of thinking, Jacob deGrom should get drilled cuz he’s the hottest pitcher on the planet?” Jones wrote on Twitter. “NO! I Enjoy watching him pitch and I enjoy watching RAJ play the game. I’m old school just like this broadcaster, but these comments are waaay off base!”[Emphasis added]


Compare that to:

Washington Post: "Benches clear after Bryce Harper hit by pitch in Nationals-Braves game" (August 6, 2013)

Both benches and bullpens cleared in the bottom of the fifth inning of Tuesday’s Braves-Nationals game when starter Julio Teheran hit Bryce Harper with a fastball and Harper yelled back as he walked to first base. Harper homered in the third inning off Teheran, a laser shot to center field in which he watched the flight of the ball for a split second and then tossed his bat to the side. It was the slowest home run trot of Harper’s career, a 23.66-second run around the bases, according to TaterTrotTracker.com.

With the first pitch of the following at-bat, Teheran fired a 94-mile per hour fastball that hit Harper on his right thigh. Harper tossed his bat to the side, and then pointed and yelled at Teheran. As Harper walked to first base, home plate umpire Joe West chased after him and held back catcher Brian McCann. Both benches cleared and hitting coach Rick Schu was the first National to reach Harper. The outfielder still shouted at the Braves while standing at first.

“Something he’s got to do,” said Harper, who believed Teheran hit him on purpose. “It’s part of the game and it’s something I guess he’s got to do.”

Asked is he was surprised Teheran hit him, Harper was blunt: “Uh, I hit that ball pretty far off him, so no, not really.”

[...]

“I mean, 14 1/2 games down and I need to be in the lineup,” Harper said. “He’s got to do what he’s got to do. And it’s part of the game, like I said. If I walk-off on somebody and he wants to drill me, I’ll let him drill me and I’ll stand on first base and say some choice words and get over it.”

Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said he asked West if he felt Teheran hit Harper intentionally, which would be just cause to throw him out instead of issuing a warning. Johnson said West didn’t think it was because the pitch was low.

“I don’t think Harp did anything when he hit the home run,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t nothing. I don’t know what he was thinking. I don’t know if he was trying to go inside and brush him back and he hit him in the leg. I thought (Ryan Zimmerman) answered it right, he almost hit one out of the ballpark. That’s the way you answer that sort of thing. You file it for future reference. There’s nothing you can do at that time to level the playing field.”

Teheran said Harper’s slower-than-normal home run trot didn’t bother him because he wasn’t paying attention. “I didn’t watch,” he said. “I was getting concentrated on the next batter and I didn’t watch him at all.”

[...]

Even the two team’s official Twitter accounts joined the fray. The Braves accounted tweeted “Clown move bro” after the benches cleared. The Nationals account responded: “Which part, giving up the home run, or drilling the 20-year-old on the first pitch his next time up?” Retired Brave Chipper Jones, who became friends with Harper last season, also chimed in on Twitter with tough words for Harper: “Don’t walk off homers and u won’t get hit!”[Emphasis added]


Then there was the Braves/Marlins feud, over games separated by 3 years!

CBS Sports: WATCH: Benches clear after Braves throw at Fernandez in apparent retaliation (Sep. 15, 2016)

Chipper's recent reaction to that one "He wasn’t hit for staring at a homer. He was thrown at bcuz on multiple occasions, he threw at and eventually hit Markakis. Now I don’t condone throwing around ur head."
   112. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5734139)
I don't know if that makes him a hypocrite. On one hand he is saying don't throw at a guy simply because he is good and on the other he is saying don't show off and/or if you throw at our guys we'll throw at yours. If he had said you should never throw at a player and then said these things that would make him a hypocrite.
   113. Rusty Priske Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:04 AM (#5734151)
I have been thinking this for a while, so I will finally say it.

This site would be a lot better if all the people who don't actually LIKE baseball would leave.
   114. Lassus Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5734155)
There are lots of other sources, but while pressed for time:

The Cyclical History of Horse Racing: The USA's Oldest and (Sometimes) Most Popular Spectator Sport

Racing made a huge comeback in the 1920s, as state governments legalised on-track betting which provided a popular new source for state revenues. By the 1950s, more people attended horse races than any other sport. However, the sport has struggled in the past 30 years due to competition from other sports and entertainments, and alternative gambling opportunities.

There are many, many, many sources and various data for the assertion of horse racing and its place - for a period - as THE most popular sport in America. I do doubt any of these sources would convince, but...

   115. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:09 AM (#5734157)
That's not true at all. BITD, meaning as recently as the 1970's in some cases, the sports sections of newspapers regularly carried the complete racing results from their own area and at selected major tracks around the country, along with employing at least one or sometimes two full time racing reporters. There was far more year around coverage of racing than there was of basketball or even football.

That doesn't make it a major sport nor that people were following it. You could also get back in the 1950's and such community baseball and bowling results that doesn't make them major sports leagues.


Apples and oranges, since there's never been any horse racing "league". But other than baseball, before WWII horse racing got as much year around coverage as any other sport, with the possible exception of boxing. Out of season, football and basketball simply disappeared from the sports pages.

If you want to say that this means that baseball was the only truly major sport back then, I wouldn't necessarily disagree, but that's setting the bar pretty high.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'll second Andy's impression of the pervasiveness of interest in the horses BITD. One of my father's first jobs out of high school (in 1948) was as a runner/office-boy at a racing-form publisher in Chicago. Information would come in over the wires from everywhere, and the paper was a major publication that definitely got trucked out to Peoria early the next morning so that the local fans could do their handicapping.

You can also infer the reach of horse racing from the many times that movies of the 30's featured plots centering around either racing or backroom betting operations that were centered on betting on baseball and horses. Here's a Saturday Evening Post article on how the Depression triggered a boom in racing, and gambling in general, that was reflected in those films.

Depression America Goes To The Horses

EDIT: coke to Lassus
   116. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5734176)
There are many, many, many sources and various data for the assertion of horse racing and its place - for a period - as THE most popular sport in America. I do doubt any of these sources would convince, but...

I don't doubt tracks brought in a lot of people. Hell, a dogtrack in Kenosha, WI is open almost year round, every single day and they probably see a couple of hundred people a day every single day on average. They had something like almost a million in 1994 and were down to just 233,000 by 2008 when they closed because they couldn't make it work anymore at those numbers. Now multiply those kinds of numbers across 50 states and the thousands of tracks. I mean there is a reason why MLB always has the highest attendance out of any major sport and it is because they play 81 homes game a year, by far the most of any major sport. Now imagine playing 360 home games a year and having 5,000 "homes".
   117. Billy Sunday Posted: August 27, 2018 at 12:19 PM (#5734199)
Who the **** is this -- character? Shouldn't he be signing his posts "Cordially"?

Old baseball adage, way predating sabermetrics: Never make the first out or the last out of an inning at third base.

Maybe the reason triples were so high back in the 70's was that players were snorting 90 feet of cocaine every time they ran down the first base line, stimulating their physical prowess and dulling their risk-inhibition circuits? <tongue-in-cheek mode off>.
   118. Billy Sunday Posted: August 27, 2018 at 12:22 PM (#5734201)
Want to make baseball more popular? Bring back the superstations! 150 games/year of free baseball x 3 channels with the side benefit of a concomitant decrease of "Friends" reruns. That'll get you some eyeballs.
   119. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 12:24 PM (#5734203)
It's part of baseball. He did not get hit on the head.
Wow. Didn't think you were actually going to endorse that.
   120. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 12:29 PM (#5734207)
Hell, a dogtrack in Kenosha, WI is open almost year round
I'm not a religious guy, so I haven't really given much thought to what I would imagine hell to be like, but a dogtrack in Kenosha, WI does seem plausible.
   121. Batman Posted: August 27, 2018 at 01:31 PM (#5734240)
The worst relief pitcher on each team should be forced to use THE KENOSHA DOGTRACK as his players' weekend nickname.
   122. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: August 27, 2018 at 01:36 PM (#5734246)
I have been thinking this for a while, so I will finally say it.

This site would be a lot better if all the people who don't actually LIKE baseball would leave.


That would probably just leave Furtado... :-)
   123. cardsfanboy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 02:27 PM (#5734278)
MLB is the second most popular sports league in the U.S. Regardless of all the people looking to make claims about it's death etc, it's still second highest revenue league in the world, and that is really the only thing that matters in arguing about it's popularity.
   124. T.J. Posted: August 27, 2018 at 03:14 PM (#5734303)
Maybe because Whitey was a lazy turd.
This explains a lot of problems with the world today.
   125. zenbitz Posted: August 27, 2018 at 04:07 PM (#5734353)
So I don't follow baseball as much as I used to. And it sure isn't because of TTOs or long games or 'roids or anything like that. First off - I was never a BASEBALL fan, I was a GIANTS fan. Baseball - to me - is only watchable as a sport if you are invested in the outcome. Otherwise... it's pretty dang dull (not to everyone - hey we all have our weird hobbies). Soccer - which I watched a bit of during this years World Cup I find similar.

Soccer and Baseball are fundamentally *tension* sports. Other sports have tense moments, but they are not driven by tension.

I stopped really following baseball for 2 reasons - my son (9th grader now) finds it boring compared to basketball and football, so I am willing to do those things to hang out with him (in a twist... he plays Magic: The Gathering with me to hang out with ME).

The second reason is that after 3 World Series Titles in 5 years (following a 50 year drought), I just feel like it's .... house money at this point. I just can't get invested. If the Giants are bad (2017) or mediocre (2015/2016/2018) I just get all that time back (this is also true of other sports... when the 49ers are terrible I am not exactly compelled to watch 3 hours every sunday in real time (or short delay).

   126. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 04:58 PM (#5734399)
It doesn't add up. Horses move their arms quite a bit when they run.
Horses don't have arms. With one notable exception.
   127. Baldrick Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:04 PM (#5734454)
"Hmmm, how did this get to 100+ comments. I guess I'll check."
[clicks on link]
[slowly backs away]
   128. Too Much Coffee Man Posted: August 27, 2018 at 06:42 PM (#5734474)
As I noted in another thread, if baseball had never been invented and someone pitched the sport as a new entertainment product to a panel of venture capitalists and one of the deck slides included something like Joey Gallo hitting against a shift, they'd be laughed out of the room.


Bob Newhart on Baseball
   129. QLE Posted: August 27, 2018 at 07:26 PM (#5734486)
a governance structure and cultural conservatism that prevents the rules from being changed to make the game work.


All right, I'll bite. What rule changes could they make that you would regard as solving these problems?

But while other sports have maintained their depth as they’ve been subject to scrutiny


Name them.

WE LEARNED baseball involves almost no team interaction whatsoever and can be modeled most accurately as a set of independent individuals, both on offense and defense.


Can't we say that, in some way or another, about any team sport? The baseball is played may make it more obvious than in sports played by a clock, but individual interactions are deeply important with other sports as well.

There’s no strategic depth regarding team synergies.


Given that this is meaningless jargon, I can't say it's a loss- it would be like complaining that there's no post-structuralism in baseball either.

WE THOUGHT pitching involved lost of game theory


Ironically, I'd argue that reliever use, which in various ways is deeply annoying to watch, demonstrates game theory in action quite well, in terms of what pitchers to use and when.

Million dollar arms could have ten cent heads.


I'm not inclined to regard recent trends in pitcher use as disproving this at all- we've seen in the last few years quite a few examples of what happens when pitchers are less than full in the brains department.

So long, Eddie Lopat.


"That's what baseball needs more of- mediocrities with the good luck of spending most of their careers with the one good team in their league!"

WE LEARNED that for nearly all hitters, upper cutting, swing hard, miss lots — a single style - was the optimal approach.


Strange- arguably the most important thing we've learned about hitting (namely, the idea that it's a good idea to be able to draw walks) isn't covered at all by this....

WE THOUGHT optimizing winning involved lots of strategic decisions; platooning, sacrificing, situational hitting, stealing. We learned that for the most part, none of that matters, and to he extent it matters, the effect is dwarfed by how many guys you have that swing hard and throw hard.


Are we sure that platooning doesn't matter? I'm under the impression that the reason it's vanished is bullpen bloat. Similarly, stealing is cyclical in nature- note that it basically disappeared for decades in MLB. This basically leaves the sacrifice bunt- and, really, who gets excited about the sacrifice bunt?

It resists easy analysis


"Guys on steroids slam into each other in effort to move ball down field."

involves tons of intra-team interaction


I assume baseball would as well if the people who batted (other than the DH) and the people who took to the field were a completely different set of people.

really depends on matchups


And this differs from baseball how, exactly?

and has tons and tons of game theory and other strategic depth


So does Risk, Dungeons and Dragons, and contract bridge. Do we want to watch any of those?

Or maybe basketball - which probably could become baseball bc the 3 point line makes one style of play too strong, but has been constantly tweaked to optimize the entertainment value of the game and would be tweaked again long before it reached baseball’s current optimio ad absurdam state.


College basketball stays afloat due to gamblers, and the NBA is heavily reliant on cults of personality around several key players and the fact that, in practical terms, the same people always seem to make the Finals. The 1919 World Series taught MLB the danger of the former, and the fact that baseball died on the vine in the 1950s the danger of the latter.
   130. bobm Posted: August 27, 2018 at 07:39 PM (#5734494)
It's part of baseball. He did not get hit on the head.
Wow. Didn't think you were actually going to endorse that


Ok. Are you saying every intentional HBP and brushback is wrong, or just those done for certain reasons?
   131. . Posted: August 27, 2018 at 07:46 PM (#5734497)
Strange- arguably the most important thing we've learned about hitting (namely, the idea that it's a good idea to be able to draw walks)


I wouldn't really call drawing walks, "hitting." How do I know this? Because you don't have to hit the ball or even try to hit the ball to draw a walk.

Walks are only in the rules to make sure games don't go on for 17 hours or somesuch.

I'm hard pressed to think of any other sport that bestows a reward on a player and his team for just standing there. It's rather absurd that there are a lot of circumstances where it's "worth" the exact same amount as getting a single against a major league pitcher and major league defense. They should actually find a way to change that balance.
   132. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:05 PM (#5734509)
Ok. Are you saying every intentional HBP and brushback is wrong, or just those done for certain reasons?
It's wrong to intentionally throw a hard projectile at someone at 90+ MPH, period. There's too much risk of significant injury even if you're not aiming at the head. In legal terms, as has been pointed out many times here and elsewhere, if you're not on a baseball field it's battery if you hit your target and assault if you miss.

It's even more wrong to do it for stupid reasons - and pretty much all baseball "reasons" are some level of stupid, with "he's too good and he's a rookie" being at the extreme end of the continuum, somewhere past even "he showed me up" and "their guy did it first."

Doesn't matter that it's been "a part of the game for years." It's been dumb and wrong for years, as have takeout slides and plate collisions.
   133. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:09 PM (#5734512)
So long, Eddie Lopat.

"That's what baseball needs more of- mediocrities with the good luck of spending most of their careers with the one good team in their league!"

Wait, what? Have you ever checked out Eddie Lopat's World Series record? Or his 27-10 record against the Indians, who wereYankees' main opponent during those years?
   134. Leroy Kincaid Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:40 PM (#5734523)
Jesus, now the thread's been taken over by degenerate gamblers. Can't wait for the alcoholics and junkies to show up.
   135. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 27, 2018 at 08:47 PM (#5734530)
I accidentally bought a $13 can of beer at a Durham Bulls game last week. (EDIT: It was a tallboy.)
   136. BDC Posted: August 27, 2018 at 09:25 PM (#5734552)
I wouldn't really call drawing walks, "hitting." How do I know this? Because you don't have to hit the ball or even try to hit the ball to draw a walk


I know, don't feed the troll, but sometimes …

Here are some of the active leaders in walk rate, min. 3,000 PAs.

Player               BB   PA  HR RBI   BA  OBP  SLG
Joey Votto         1087 6650 266 885 .311 .428 .531
Jose Bautista      1020 7183 342 969 .247 .361 .475
Carlos Santana      817 5329 193 660 .246 .363 .442
Mike Trout          671 4559 231 629 .306 .415 .571
Dexter Fowler       655 5206 104 434 .262 .360 .420
Paul Goldschmidt    642 4588 206 703 .298 .399 .534
Matt Carpenter      557 4184 131 475 .277 .378 .476
Bryce Harper        547 3817 180 505 .280 .385 .514 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/27/2018.

Which of these guys strikes you as not being able to hit the ball? Which of them make no effort to hit the ball? Which of them would you like to talk with in person about their abandonment of the pursuit of hitting the ball?
   137. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: August 28, 2018 at 06:49 AM (#5734628)
   138. SandyRiver Posted: August 28, 2018 at 08:52 AM (#5734654)
And this year the NL leader will top 30, and the AL leader has a shot at 40/40.


Dead cat bounce. The trend is obvious; the saber sniff fest at running is just as obvious.

Jose Ramirez: 37 hr, 28/5 sb, age 25
Mookie Betts: 27 hr, 26/4 sb, age 25
Mike trout: 31 hr, 21/2 sb, the old man, at 26
I'm guessing these cats will be bouncing for several years to come.
   139. bobm Posted: August 28, 2018 at 09:36 AM (#5734677)
It's been dumb and wrong for years, as have takeout slides and plate collisions.

Takeout slides at 2B and plate collisions have been dealt with in the rules by and large. That said, One 2015 article noted about intentional HBP:

Even when the league does mete out punishments, the sentence is laughably ineffective. The typical punishment for a pitcher found to have intentionally thrown at a batter is a suspension for fewer than 10 games. Yet starting pitchers only throw once every five days, so with clever scheduling of an appeal, a pitcher can serve his suspension while effectively missing zero games. Thus, there’s no disincentive for a pitcher to throw at a batter—indeed, it’s quite the contrary, as there are many managers and analysts who view assaulting batters as “defending the honor of the game” or “playing the game the right way.”

In fact, you only have to consult MLB’s official rules to see just how seriously MLB takes intentionally throwing at a batter: Rule 8.02(a) [now 6.02(c)(1-7)] governs intentionally modifying the ball to gain an advantage. The mandatory penalty for doing so? Automatic ejection from the game and a 10-game suspension. Rule 8.02(d) [now 6.02(c)(9)] governs intentionally throwing at a batter, but there’s no penalty specified. The only comment in this section of note is that throwing at a batter’s head is “condemned by everybody.”


How would you propose to deal with intentional HBP? The above article proposes:

MLB can also look at the National Hockey League, which has a rule that’s always enforced regardless of intent. The NHL gives a player a two-minute delay of game penalty if he shoots the puck over the glass out of his own end. It’s irrelevant if the delay of game occurred because the player was trying to stave off an offensive rush, or if he just ran into some bad luck.

MLB can follow the same process, though it would be far more controversial: automatic ejections of any pitcher who hits a batter above the waist. Doing so removes umpires’ inability to measure intent from the equation. Hit a batter above the waist, hit the showers early, no exceptions. Ask Giancarlo Stanton’s jaw if it mattered that Mike Fiers wasn’t aiming at his head—the injury is the same. An ejection isn't the same as a suspension—the team would only be without its pitcher for the duration of the game in which the hit-by-pitch occurred. A subsequent suspension would still be under the purview of the league office; it would still determine intent when assessing whether a longer punishment was necessary. [Emphasis added]


Offense would go through the roof, as an unintended consequence IMO, especially if you don't ban batters' wearing body armor or adjust the width of home plate or the configuration of the batters' boxes.
   140. . Posted: August 28, 2018 at 09:36 AM (#5734680)
BDC, it might help if you addressed what I said rather than what you think or wish I said. I never even hinted that good hitters couldn’t draw a lot of walks and I can’t begin to see how you got that from what I actually wrote.
   141. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 28, 2018 at 09:45 AM (#5734687)
Are people really clamoring for more errors and balls that glance off of fielders’ gloves?


I am clamoring for this. More mistakes mean things are less predictable. Watching a minor league or college game is more exciting because it's not automatic that a "routine" (actually very difficult) fielding play will turn into an out.
   142. BDC Posted: August 28, 2018 at 10:30 AM (#5734725)
Bear, I quoted you directly:

you don't have to hit the ball or even try to hit the ball to draw a walk


If you mean that, by definition, you can't get a called ball if you swing, so what?

If you mean that it's possible to draw a lot of walks in the major leagues without being able to hit strikes, you're just wrong. Well, not 100% wrong. Mickey Lolich did it. Point for you :)

But all these guys who are supposedly walking all the time by just freezing at the plate till they get waved to first – who are they? When did you start watching baseball? You talk as if nobody ever took a bad pitch till Bill James pointed out the possibility.
   143. BDC Posted: August 28, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5734742)
Actually let me revise #142. I can absolutely see why somebody wouldn't like baseball, because often enough, the batter stands there for a while and often either proceeds to first or back to the dugout without much action. It's boring, I get it.

What I can't see is somebody devoted enough to baseball to spend years arguing about it on the Internet, championing Jack Morris, etc., and then suddenly deciding in 2018 that baseball is too boring, because of all the standing around. Or if so, claiming that the game rather than themself is the thing that's changed.

I grew up watching Ron Santo. Later on, my favorite players were Mike Schmidt, and then Rickey Henderson. OBP, including a lot of walks, was central to their skills. I appreciated that better after reading Bill James, but it's not like the sport, or my enjoyment of it, changed very much in the process.
   144. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 28, 2018 at 11:34 AM (#5734772)
If you mean that it's possible to draw a lot of walks in the major leagues without being able to hit strikes, you're just wrong. Well, not 100% wrong. Mickey Lolich did it. Point for you :)
I wish that Ben Sheets had taken this approach. He's probably the worst hitter in recent memory (among players with a reasonable number of PAs), and it would've been a fun experiment if he'd gone full Lolich -- swing at BP fastballs down the middle, take everything else. Sheets was a career 076/113/082 hitter. If he could've matched Lolich's 110/215/121 line then he becomes a very terrible hitter, rather than a historically terrible hitter. Sheets might've given us a lower bound for the results of a stand-there-and-take approach, at least for a guy with enough athletic ability to stand around on a baseball infield and not get killed by a batted ball.

For a stand-there-and-take approach in a real hitter, see the minor league career of Mark Johnson. Because he was a lefty hitting catcher, he got 1100 MLB PAs. He hit 218/314/318 (64 OPS+) at the peak of the sillyball era. It's a great approach in the Southern League, not so much in MLB.
   145. DavidFoss Posted: August 28, 2018 at 11:55 AM (#5734787)
Offense would go through the roof, as an unintended consequence IMO, especially if you don't ban batters' wearing body armor or adjust the width of home plate or the configuration of the batters' boxes.

I never thought to check, but HBP's are up historically. The all-time records HBP/G seasons are from the 1890s, but 2018 has a chance to break the 'modern' record set in 2001.

HBP's have been up since the strike. All the seasons since 1995 have been 0.30 HBP/G or more. You have to go back to 1911 to find the previous year when HBP rates were more common. Is that because of the body armor?
   146. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: August 28, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5734810)
Fernigal, everything you've said in this thread is something I've posted in previous ones; total co-sign.
(Apart from the $13 can of beer bit)
   147. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 28, 2018 at 12:15 PM (#5734813)
Maybe it's already been mentioned, but FYI, walk rates have not really gone up. The heyday of guys whose primary offensive strategy was standing around hoping to draw a walk was the late 1940s (the walking Eddies, Roy Cullenbine) and even then, I think the extent to which their first choice was a walk was probably over-stated by critics of their approach.

Anyway, in 2018, there have been 12,661 walks in 150,193 plate appearances according to BB-Ref as I type this, or a walk 8.43% of the time. In 1983 - which, honest, was the first season I pulled up for comparison, not cherry picked at all (I was an Orioles fan as a teenager, so 1983 is my favorite season from that era) - there were 13,518 walks in 160,615 plate appearances, which works out to a walk 8.42% of the time.
   148. BDC Posted: August 28, 2018 at 12:31 PM (#5734846)
Thanks for that link to Mark Johnson, Fernigal. That's pretty amazing. Usually if you see a catcher batting .218/.314 (BA/OBP), you figure he's hitting 16 home runs a year. Johnson hit 16 in eight years :)
   149. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 28, 2018 at 12:33 PM (#5734848)
How would you propose to deal with intentional HBP?
I would be open to considering (Manfreding?) an automatic ejection for any HBP above the waist, with discretionary additional suspension that is actually consequential rather than just giving a pitcher an extra couple days' rest before a start. Also, suspensions for managers if there is reason to believe the directive came from the bench (difficult to get at, I realize). As noted on this very thread, additional offense would probably be a benefit, but to offset it a bit I would actually enforce the "batter has to try to get out of the way" rule.
   150. . Posted: August 28, 2018 at 12:49 PM (#5734861)
Or you could just agree that a walk in fact doesn’t involve “hitting” ..... It’s really not that provocative an observation.
   151. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: August 28, 2018 at 12:55 PM (#5734868)
not swinging at bad pitches is a skill. why is this difficult to understand?
   152. JAHV Posted: August 28, 2018 at 01:12 PM (#5734893)
I never thought to check, but HBP's are up historically. The all-time records HBP/G seasons are from the 1890s, but 2018 has a chance to break the 'modern' record set in 2001.

HBP's have been up since the strike. All the seasons since 1995 have been 0.30 HBP/G or more. You have to go back to 1911 to find the previous year when HBP rates were more common. Is that because of the body armor?


My completely speculative guess: hitters are standing closer to the plate and diving out over it to hit fastballs hard to the opposite field. I know I could look this up, but I feel like opposite field homeruns are more prevalent than in prior years. This strategy allows hitters to hit the ball hard to all fields, as they can still pull inside breaking balls or lower velocity fastballs.

Pitchers counter this by throwing hard on the inside corner, which, when control is off, leads to hit batters. Batters would mind this if they weren't wearing the elbow guards and other armor that help cushion the blow.
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