Baseball Primer Newsblog
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Sunday, July 21, 2013
(eating oldehippy’s head) Keep your eyes open; I wanna horrify you into a coma.
Bob Costas, on this morning’s Mike and Mike program, said that Marvin Miller “went to his grave spewing nonsense about steroids in baseball.” I know you admire Miller—do you disagree with this characterization of Miller’s (and by extension the union’s) stance on steroids in baseball?...
Marvin was a friend, and Bob Costas is a friend, and I didn’t hear the comments, so I’m not going to get in the middle of that. From my perspective, a great many people shared in the process of mishandling the steroid issue.
Hi Bill, What characteristics of a ballpark—altitude, dimensions, local climate, etc.—influence park factors the most? Intuitively I’d think the dimensions of the outfield fence, but I tend to miss the obvious in these matters. Thanks!
Hey Bill, What did you think about Leyland’s decision to bring Mariano Rivera into the All-Star game in the 8th inning? It has been called an “Epic Blunder” by some but I think that’s far too light. Depriving Mariano the chance to save his final All-Star game I believe was unconscionable. Even if Nathan gives it up in the 8th inning and Mariano doesn’t get a chance for the save, at least he finishes his final All-Star Game. As it turned out, he could’ve finished it and had a save. I think Leyland should be drummed out of baseball for the Mariano decision and what he did to the Rockies, but now I’m getting emotional.
Yes, it is a shame that no one ever celebrates Mariano Rivera’s career.
Hi Bill. Have you ever done a study on the effectiveness of bringing in pinch runners late in close games to replace good hitting slow players? Do you know if it is generally worth it or not?
Generally speaking, it is NOT worth it. It’s like most other strategies—the bunt, the intentional walk, calling in the infield, bringing in a left-hander to face a left-hander. All strategies like that are used much more often than they logically should be, because of the “action bias” in decision making.
Without running the numbers. . .I would be surprised if any pinch runner can increase the chance of scoring a run by more than 3%; that is, if a runner has a 30% chance of scoring anyway, using a fast runner won’t make it 33%. It might make it 32%. But let’s say you can gain 3% of a run by doing that—and, of course, gaining 3% of a run cannot be more than gaining a 1.5% chance of a win.
But a good hitter creates maybe .18 runs per at bat, whereas an average hitter is more like .12. If that spot in the batting order comes around again, you’ve lot 6% of a run, and potentially much more than that. So. . .if you’re going to pinch run, you’ve got to be pretty certain that the big hitter’s spot isn’t going to come around again in the 10th inning or something.
In the first round of the playoffs, 2004, Game 3, Anaheim at Boston, David Ortiz singled with two out in the bottom of the 8th. Tim McCarver, broadcasting the game, said that Terry Francona would pinch run for David. My wife, watching the game on TV with me, was screaming at the TV “NO NO NO. DON’T PINCH RUN FOR HIM. DON’T DO IT. WE NEED HIS BAT IN THE LINEUP.” Terry didn’t do it, and McCarver openly second-guessed him for not doing it.
But in the 11th inning, David dropped a bomb on them, and we won the game 8-6. Up until that point, the issue you raise had been a discussion item with us, as Terry would pinch run for David sometimes. But after that happened, he never would. You pinch run. . .it’s a 1-in-40 shot that it makes any difference. If you get into extra innings, then and now, you want David Ortiz’ bat in the lineup.
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