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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bill James Mailbag - 7/13/13 - 7/19/13

(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!

Altitude.  

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.   

The District Attorney Posted: July 21, 2013 at 01:39 PM | 60 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: all-star game, bill james, bob costas, mariano rivera, marvin miller, park factors, ped, sabermetrics, strategy

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   1. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 21, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4500090)
How the hell does a team like Cincinnati, starting two awful hitting starting outfielders every year from 1945-1947 , keep Hank Sauer in AAA full time at ages 28-29, (286 games of .310/.404/.570/.975 with 71 HR)?
   2. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 21, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4500093)
What was the worst All-Star Game starting lineup ever fielded by a team?
Asked by: soprismb
Answered: 7/19/2013

No idea. It's a question that could be studied.

Hey Bill, has a selected all star even been traded from one league to the other prior to the game he was selected to being played?
Asked by: PB
Answered: 7/19/2013

I don't believe so, no.

Hey Bill, can you pickup my dry-cleaning for me?
Asked by: LazyQuestioner
Answered: 7/19/2013

Now do you people see what I have to deal with?
   3. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 21, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4500094)
One thing that drives me nuts about the Bill James site: I'll look at it every once in a while to see if there are new James articles or Hey Bills posted, but if I've already read the top Hey Bill letter, I'll just move on. But once in a while, as seems to have happened here, he will post new letters UNDERNEATH the letter at the top of the column. So that letter that starts "When the kids were younger..." has been the lead Hey Bill for a week or so... bit meanwhile, new letters have been added below, letters I wouldn't have seen if they hadn't been posted here.

Am I crazy? Am I missing something? This seems like an insane way to run a letters column.
   4. Bug Selig Posted: July 21, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4500098)
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.


Call me crazy - but in my experience, there tends not to be a bottom of the 9th when the home team is winning.
   5. TJ Posted: July 21, 2013 at 03:08 PM (#4500107)

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.

Is anyone else besides me sick to death of all the whining about this? Rivera got to pitch, got a wonderful and well-deserved ovation and tribute, and got to walk off the field to another ovation at the end of the 8th. Does he get any of that if Nathan comes in the 8th and gets into trouble? You think the NL players would appreciate having to wait through a four minute break in their rally while the crowd acknowledges Rivera? Besides, bringing Rivera in he 8th helped us get the awful image of Neil Diamond and "Sweet Caroline" out of our heads quicker...
   6. Sweatpants Posted: July 21, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4500113)
How the hell does a team like Cincinnati, starting two awful hitting starting outfielders every year from 1945-1947 , keep Hank Sauer in AAA full time at ages 28-29, (286 games of .310/.404/.570/.975 with 71 HR)?
Sauer had a reputation as a terrible defensive outfielder (there's the famous line Willie Mays said to comfort Orlando Cepeda - "I played next to Hank Sauer, and you can't be worse than he was"). It didn't help that Bill McKechnie, the Reds' manager in 1945 and 1946, was one of the most defensive-oriented managers of the time.
   7. Bob Tufts Posted: July 21, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4500115)
Bob Costas, on this morning’s Mike and Mike program, said that Marvin Miller “went to his grave spewing nonsense about steroids in baseball.”


An example of a guy that has been paid by and approved by management since he was 22 years old to broadcast also trying to play to the groundlings' public opinion.

Miller's issues with drug testing were regarding re-opening any collective bargaining agreement and setting a bad legal precedent, defining a safe and private program (as one done in the early 80's with cocaine, but which we have seen post-Quest is impossible), one that is science-based and not "think of the children" and also doing what a union executive should - being concerned with random punishment of members by management.

These are topics to be discussed in collective bargaining, not to be decided by the conflicted blow dryed mind of a physical and mental midget named Bob Costas



   8. The District Attorney Posted: July 21, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4500117)
What was the worst All-Star Game starting lineup ever fielded by a team?
Asked by: soprismb
Answered: 7/19/2013

No idea. It's a question that could be studied.
I actually am curious what the answer to this is... I mean, "fewest combined career WAR" or whatever wouldn't really answer answer it, but it would be interesting to know.

(To be fair to the questioners, Bill has said that he likes questions that can lead to research that yields a definitive answer. Which I do get why he'd encourage that, but it's a fine line...)

One thing that drives me nuts about the Bill James site: I'll look at it every once in a while to see if there are new James articles or Hey Bills posted, but if I've already read the top Hey Bill letter, I'll just move on. But once in a while, as seems to have happened here, he will post new letters UNDERNEATH the letter at the top of the column. So that letter that starts "When the kids were younger..." has been the lead Hey Bill for a week or so... bit meanwhile, new letters have been added below, letters I wouldn't have seen if they hadn't been posted here.

Am I crazy? Am I missing something? This seems like an insane way to run a letters column.
I believe that means that he has edited the response at the top of the column, which brought it back up to the top. It's trying to bring your attention to the addition to the previous post... but I agree that it creates the opposite problem. I suppose there needs to be an "edited at" date as well as a "originally posted" date.

defining a safe and private program... concerned with random punishment of members by management
Wow, what a paranoid nut Miller looks like now that we know how unjustified those concerns were.
   9. Baldrick Posted: July 21, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4500119)
Yes, it is a shame that no one ever celebrates Mariano Rivera’s career.

Nice snark.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: July 21, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4500120)
I love the answer to the question about protecting the batter. I absolutely agree with it.

Because every batter is already fully protected by the strike zone. The walk is NEVER a good play, or virtually never a good play; thus, it is ALWAYS in the interests of every pitcher to pitch to every batter, regardless of who is on deck. Having a strong batter on deck only makes what is already true a little more true. Which is like a woman being a little bit more pregnant; it doesn't really register.


I've never thought about expressing it that way(not the pregnant part, but by emphasizing that the pitcher is always interested in getting the batter out...I imagine that if exceptions to this show up, it's in the frequency of walking a batter when they are followed by a pitcher batting. Even if it's not an IBB.
   11. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: July 21, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4500124)
Tie game, runner on second, bottom of the ninth, one or two outs. Walk's a good play then, especially if there's a weaker hitter on deck. Not a lot of other times.
   12. bobm Posted: July 21, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4500149)
[10]

"Hans" Wagner, of Pittsburg, has always been a hard man for me, but in that I have had nothing on a lot of other pitchers. He takes a long bat, stands well back from the plate, and steps into the ball, poling it. He is what is known in baseball as a free swinger, and there are not many free swingers these days. [...]

Sometimes it is almost impossible to pass a man of this sort purposely, for a little carelessness in getting the ball too close to the plate may result in his stepping up and hitting it a mile. Pitchers have been searching for Wagner's "groove" for years, and, if any one of them has located it, he has his discovery copyrighted, for I never heard of it.

Only one pitcher, that I can recall, always had it on Wagner, and that man was Arthur Raymond, sometimes called "Bugs." He seemed to upset the German by his careless manner in the box and by his "kidding" tactics. I have seen him make Wagner go after bad balls, a thing that "Hans" seldom can be induced to do by other twirlers.

I remember well the first time I pitched against Wagner. Jack Warner was catching, and I, young and new in the League, had spent a lot of time with him, learning the weaknesses of the batters and being coached as to how to treat them. Wagner loomed up at the bat in a pinch, and I could not remember what Warner had said about his flaw. I walked out of the box to confer with the catcher.

"What's his 'groove,' Jack?" I asked him.

"A base on balls," replied Warner, without cracking a smile.

That's always been Wagner's "groove."


- Christy Mathewson, Pitching in a Pinch
   13. Leroy Kincaid Posted: July 21, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4500158)
Hey Bill, has a selected all star even been traded from one league to the other prior to the game he was selected to being played?

Manny Trillo 1983?
   14. steagles Posted: July 21, 2013 at 04:40 PM (#4500174)
Hey Bill, has a selected all star even been traded from one league to the other prior to the game he was selected to being played?

Manny Trillo 1983?
carlos beltran, 2004.
   15. spycake Posted: July 21, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4500181)
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.



Call me crazy - but in my experience, there tends not to be a bottom of the 9th when the home team is winning.


Couldn't Selig have simply mandated the bottom of the 9th be played, regardless of score, just for Mariano Rivera? It would have not only let him finish the game, it would have hopefully prevented him from getting an undeserved MVP award.
   16. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: July 21, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4500182)
These are topics to be discussed in collective bargaining, not to be decided by the conflicted blow dryed mind of a physical and mental midget named Bob Costas

Wonderful! I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who doesn't care for Mr. Costas

As far as Miller, does he get in the HOF via the upcoming Expansion Era Committee vote? He always came a vote or two shy and I'm not sure if his passing will help or hinder his support. The Exp Era ballot will be pretty impressive with Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Tony Larussa, Dwight Evans, Keith Hernandez and others eligible for the first time--so those new candidates may pull votes away from Miller
   17. Bob Tufts Posted: July 21, 2013 at 04:55 PM (#4500196)
Tubbs, Miller reached the Groucho Marx "I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member" point years ago, and it was finalized when Bowie Kuhn was inducted.

Miller didn't need induction - he already knew his value.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: July 21, 2013 at 05:03 PM (#4500202)
Couldn't Selig have simply mandated the bottom of the 9th be played, regardless of score, just for Mariano Rivera? It would have not only let him finish the game, it would have hopefully prevented him from getting an undeserved MVP award.


By saying undeserved MVP award, you are implying someone deserved it more....who would you have given it to? and is it really that much of a performance difference that it would make someone emotional enough to care about?
   19. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: July 21, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4500206)
Thanks, Bob. Miller certainly deserved induction.
I gained even more respect for Miller when John D'Acquisto wrote this about him:
I walked across the diamond and this older gentleman in rolled-up shirt sleeves and loosened tie lectured my teammates right on the edge of the infield behind second base. Mays, Marichal, McCovey, they were all there. Some guys were standing, other sat on the grass, arms over knees like high school freshmen at basketball practice. First time I had ever seen my idols, my heroes looking up at another man, listening obediently. Marvin Miller gave the speech. Right beside him was his assistant, Bob Moss – they were the Players Union’s version of the M&M boys. Marvin spoke about why the work stoppage was necessary, why we needed to be concerned about our future and the future for the players that come after us. If not, then why even have a union, Marvin reasoned. He asked for questions. I raised my hand.

“How is this going to affect our families and insurance later on,” I asked.
“How old are you, John,” were the first words Marvin Miller ever said to me. I was in shock.
“20,” I chuckled nervously. Still stunned. “You know my name?” Remember, this was also before last names on the backs of uniforms were an accepted practice.
“I know everyone’s name,” he smiled, a smile you needed to take seriously as his eyes met every player one by one. “You’re all important to me.”

I was hooked right then and there.
   20. BDC Posted: July 21, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4500238)
it is ALWAYS in the interests of every pitcher to pitch to every batter, regardless of who is on deck

I'd agree except for the dogmatic all-caps ALWAYS … after all, it does seem that there's a point at which the following batter is so much weaker that you're nuts to pitch to the guy at the plate. It may not make much protective difference if Mike Schmidt is batting in front of Greg Luzinski or Larry Bowa, but if he's batting in front of John Vukovich or Jim Lonborg (always assuming the Phillies are out of pinch-hitters, or something), you pretty much have to walk Schmidt. What James is perhaps saying is merely that such cases are rarer than you think.

Along the lines of another Mailbag question, I seem to remember Steve Carlton pinch-hitting a lot more than he actually did. B-Ref seems to indicate that he pinch-hit only twice as a Phillie. He could certainly handle the bat as well as many utility glovemen, better than Vukovich, for instance.

   21. Walt Davis Posted: July 21, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4500261)
<i>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.

Terry would pinch run for David sometimes. But after that happened, he never would. <\i>

In Game 4 of the ALCS, bottom 9th, Francona pinch-ran Roberts for Millar. Roberts stole second and was singled home with the tying run. This was a mildly famous moment in Red Sox history I believe. The game was eventually won on an Oritz HR.

In Game 5 of the ALCS, bottom 8th, Francona again pinch-runs Roberts for Millar. Roberts goes 1st to 3rd on a single, scores the tying run on a sac fly. Kapler also pinch-ran for Nixon that inning. The game was won in the 14th on a single by Ortiz.

Millar is not Ortiz of course but I'm far from convinced that Francona wouldn't have pinch-run for Ortiz in those spots.

I think James is right and it's a decision I always "struggle" with when playing dmb. I usually would not pinch-run. But of course when it works, it's valuable (the second Roberts pinch-run was probably more valuable than the first given what transpired later in the inning). And sometimes when you don't do it, Jeremy Giambi gets thrown out at home.

It probably only makes sense in the 8th or 9th. It probably makes more sense to do when you're behind than tied. All else equal, it probably makes least sense to run for the DH (no defensive upgrade value). If ahead and it's a defensive replacement you want to make anyway, it's a no-brainer.

   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 21, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4500274)
I think bill's responses are improving.

he will likely never admit but I suspect he got feedback that always sounding like the cranky somewhat daft uncle schtick was wearing thin
   23. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 21, 2013 at 07:17 PM (#4500293)
Harveys: I think it's more likely a hot streak attributable mostly to randomness in a small sample.
   24. Jim Wisinski Posted: July 21, 2013 at 07:27 PM (#4500297)
I've never thought about expressing it that way(not the pregnant part, but by emphasizing that the pitcher is always interested in getting the batter out...I imagine that if exceptions to this show up, it's in the frequency of walking a batter when they are followed by a pitcher batting. Even if it's not an IBB.


Does anyone know if there has been a study on whether or not, as a whole, the strategy of walking the 8th hitter to get to the pitcher with two outs is helpful to the intended decrease of run expectancy? Obviously it's going to depend a lot on the specific matchup since some 8th hitters are pretty decent/especially terrible and same goes for pitchers hitting but I'm thinking just your average 8th hitter and average hitting pitcher. Pitchers are generally really terrible hitters and will usually get you out of the inning but usually there's a reason the guy hitting 8th is hitting 8th and this adds another baserunner. This year the average 8th hitter has a .241 BA while pitchers are at .139. Does a 10% higher chance of getting a hit (with the extra 60ish points of ISO) outweigh the potential cost of another baserunner?
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: July 21, 2013 at 07:33 PM (#4500302)
Does a 10% higher chance of getting a hit (with the extra 60ish points of ISO) outweigh the potential cost of another baserunner?


It's not just that. Even if it works, the opponent is starting the next inning with its leadoff hitter, rather than its crappiest batsman. That has to do wonders for run scoring.

Intentional walks have their place, but that place is very limited, such as very late in a close game, when the effective difference between one run and multiple runs is at its lowest.

   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 21, 2013 at 07:37 PM (#4500303)
zeth

nicely done
   27. Jim Wisinski Posted: July 21, 2013 at 07:42 PM (#4500306)
It's not just that. Even if it works, the opponent is starting the next inning with its leadoff hitter, rather than its crappiest batsman. That has to do wonders for run scoring.


Great point, I didn't even think of that part. Adding that to the situation probably does kill any advantage there might have been.
   28. StHendu Posted: July 21, 2013 at 07:48 PM (#4500312)
Couldn't Selig have simply mandated the bottom of the 9th be played, regardless of score, just for Mariano Rivera? It would have not only let him finish the game, it would have hopefully prevented him from getting an undeserved MVP award.



By saying undeserved MVP award, you are implying someone deserved it more....who would you have given it to? and is it really that much of a performance difference that it would make someone emotional enough to care about?


Mariano got the MVP by retiring 3 straight batters in the 8th inning. Chris Sale retired 6 straight batters in the 2nd and 3rd innings. If the 8th inning is worth more than the 2nd and 3rd combined, than what about Nathan in the 9th? MLB and the players don't treat this like a real competitive game, so who is MVP has no importance, but the MVP was a gift.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: July 21, 2013 at 07:54 PM (#4500314)
Sale was the best choice for MVP in a game that didn't have one.

   30. bobm Posted: July 21, 2013 at 07:55 PM (#4500316)
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/what-actually-happens-after-an-intentional-walk/

Since the start of the 2010 season, Jeff’s data returned 2,955 plate appearances by position players following an IBB. There have been more intentional walks than this during the last 3+ years, but many of them led to pitchers hitting, and some of them resulted in plays that don’t really fit our criteria, such as a caught stealing or a pickoff. With almost 3,000 IBBs where the play involved the next batter, I think we have a decent sample with which to evaluate the post-IBB outcomes.

Okay, so, what is the overall batting line for hitters following an IBB? Not that impressive, honestly. [... 0.242/0.317/0.382 ...]

In all situations with baserunners on, the average line for all major league position players since 2010 is .267/.339/.417, so post-IBB hitters perform worse than hitters who come up in similar situations where an IBB was not involved. In some ways, this should be expected, because the guys who get intentionally walked are usually the best hitters in the game, so the pool of hitters that gets to bat after an IBB is selected for their lack of intimidation. Major League managers are essentially trading an extra baserunner for the right to get to face a worse hitter, and if the overall batting line was higher than the average with men on base, they’d essentially be making that trade-off with no benefit.

This result is needed for the IBB to be a useful strategy, or else MLB managers would be simply giving away runs. 
   31. BDC Posted: July 21, 2013 at 08:18 PM (#4500327)
The IBB and pitching around a good hitter are heavily influenced by who's already on base, of course, and the possibilities of setting up double plays or forces at third or home. An extreme strategy that I find exciting, though I have no idea if it's justified, is walking the bases full behind a leadoff triple that represents the winning run. Don't see that too much, but it strikes me as ingenious, and sets up some interesting baseball (particularly if you then bring an outfielder in to serve as a fifth infielder).
   32. Jay Z Posted: July 21, 2013 at 08:22 PM (#4500332)
The AL had some bad starting lineups in the 1960s:

Here's 1965:
Dick McAuliffe, SS
Brooks Robinson, 3B
Harmon Killebrew, 1B
Rocky Colavito, RF
Willie Horton, LF
Felix Mantilla, 2B
Vic Davalillo, CF
Earl Battey, C
Milt Pappas, P

The above team seems sort of weak up the middle. They might be beat by the 1963 team:

Nellie Fox, 2B
Albie Pearson, CF
Al Kaline, RF
Frank Malzone, 3B
Leon Wagner, LF
Earl Battey, C
Joe Pepitone, 1B
Zoilo Versalles, SS
Ken McBride, P

I'm not sure I could find one worse than AL 1963. Frank Malzone as cleanup hitter?!? Only one Yankee and it's Pepitone. Only two HOFers, and Fox was past his prime by this game.

AL 1977 had this OF:
Richie Zisk, LF
Carl Yastrzemski, CF
Reggie Jackson, RF

Going to be a few falling in with that bunch.
   33. cardsfanboy Posted: July 21, 2013 at 08:52 PM (#4500352)
It's not just that. Even if it works, the opponent is starting the next inning with its leadoff hitter, rather than its crappiest batsman. That has to do wonders for run scoring.


It depends on the inning that you do this. Let's say two outs, 6th inning, the pitcher is at about 90 pitches and you are facing the 8th place batter. By pitching around him, and getting the pitcher you force them to either commit to the pitcher another inning or use up their pinch hitter. If you don't pitch around him and record the 3rd out with the 8th batter, then the pinch hitter is saved for the next inning.

There are times when pitching around has it's place, not frequently, but definitely more often than just a raw reading of the numbers would indicate.
   34. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: July 21, 2013 at 09:02 PM (#4500353)
In Game 4 of the ALCS, bottom 9th, Francona pinch-ran Roberts for Millar. Roberts stole second and was singled home with the tying run. This was a mildly famous moment in Red Sox history I believe. The game was eventually won on an Oritz HR.

In Game 5 of the ALCS, bottom 8th, Francona again pinch-runs Roberts for Millar. Roberts goes 1st to 3rd on a single, scores the tying run on a sac fly. Kapler also pinch-ran for Nixon that inning. The game was won in the 14th on a single by Ortiz.

Millar is not Ortiz of course but I'm far from convinced that Francona wouldn't have pinch-run for Ortiz in those spots.


In addition to "Millar is not Ortiz", the Red Sox were losing by 1 in both of those situations. In the situation James described, the game was tied. To me, that makes a big difference.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: July 21, 2013 at 09:18 PM (#4500356)

It depends on the inning that you do this. Let's say two outs, 6th inning, the pitcher is at about 90 pitches and you are facing the 8th place batter. By pitching around him, and getting the pitcher you force them to either commit to the pitcher another inning or use up their pinch hitter. If you don't pitch around him and record the 3rd out with the 8th batter, then the pinch hitter is saved for the next inning.


And you get another inning against a tiring pitcher. (-:

Yes, the PH option complicates things. A little. But generally speaking a) pinch hitting is difficult, and b) the guys doing it are usually not good enough to be starting. Overall, whether its a PH or a pitcher in that slot, it's still better for the defensive team to have that guy leading off an inning rather than the guy who has been penciled into the lineup for that very purpose.

In addition to "Millar is not Ortiz", the Red Sox were losing by 1 in both of those situations. In the situation James described, the game was tied. To me, that makes a big difference.


And they were home in the Millar games, which means....

Sorry, that whole play for a win on the road and a tie at home (or is it reversed) was always an asinine bit of CW. If you're trailing, your first order of business is to get the score tied, then you work from there.

I do agree that using a PR is much more defensible in a game you're trailing than one you're tied. I can see an exception for runner on third, less than two outs in a tied game in extra innings, but there aren't many other times I'd lift a good hitter for his legs in a non-losing situation.

   36. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 21, 2013 at 09:29 PM (#4500363)
It's hard to find a recent All-Star Game where more than a couple starters on either team were not legends. Paul LoDuca, Jason Bay, Shea Hillenbrand, Mark Bellhorn (hmm), Torii Hunter, Walt Weiss, Dante Bichette, Ken Caminiti, these are the absolute least significant players to start these games.

The 1994 NL had only two starters who had been to more than one ASG before...

C Mike Piazza
1B Gregg Jefferies
2B Mariano Duncan
3B Matt Williams
SS Ozzie Smith
LF Barry Bonds
CF Lenny Dykstra
RF David Justice
P Greg Maddux

I guess there's only 4 deserving Hall of Famers there, that's below average.
   37. cardsfanboy Posted: July 21, 2013 at 10:45 PM (#4500387)
Sorry, that whole play for a win on the road and a tie at home (or is it reversed) was always an asinine bit of CW. If you're trailing, your first order of business is to get the score tied, then you work from there.


Agree. I have never understood that, if you are behind, you have to play to tie the game up.
   38. bobm Posted: July 21, 2013 at 11:17 PM (#4500402)
The AL had some bad starting lineups in the 1960s:

Here's 1965:
Dick McAuliffe, SS
Brooks Robinson, 3B
Harmon Killebrew, 1B
Rocky Colavito, RF
Willie Horton, LF
Felix Mantilla, 2B
Vic Davalillo, CF
Earl Battey, C
Milt Pappas, P

The above team seems sort of weak up the middle. They might be beat by the 1963 team:

Nellie Fox, 2B
Albie Pearson, CF
Al Kaline, RF
Frank Malzone, 3B
Leon Wagner, LF
Earl Battey, C
Joe Pepitone, 1B
Zoilo Versalles, SS
Ken McBride, P


Excluding wartime teams, the 1963 AL lineup has the lowest total career WAR of any AL or NL all-star starting lineup [ETA: through 2011] (if I have done my math / db manipulation correctly). The worst is the 1943 AL, followed by the 1944 and 1963 AL teams.

1943 AL [ETA in alphabetical order]:
Pos           Name
  9    George Case
  4    Bobby Doerr
  2     Jake Early
  5    Ken Keltner
  8     Chet Laabs
  3   Dick Siebert
  6  Vern Stephens
  7 Dick Wakefield
   39. bobm Posted: July 21, 2013 at 11:21 PM (#4500407)
1952 AL and 1948 AL (and obviously the 2011 AL with still active players) beat the 1965 AL team:

1952 AL in alphabetical order:

4 Bobby Avila
9 Hank Bauer
2 Yogi Berra
8 Dom DiMaggio
7 Dale Mitchell
6 Phil Rizzuto
3 Eddie Robinson
5 Al Rosen

1948 AL in alphabetical order:

6 Lou Boudreau
8 Hoot Evers
4 Joe Gordon
7 Tommy Henrich
5 Ken Keltner
3 George McQuinn
9 Pat Mullin
2 Buddy Rosar




   40. bobm Posted: July 21, 2013 at 11:34 PM (#4500414)
The worst NL starting all-star squads seem to have beaten the 1965 AL squad for total career WAR:

Here they are, excluding recent years with active players (2009-2011):

1947
1936
1980
1933
1941
1940
1985

1947 NL (all lineups in alphabetical order):

2 Walker Cooper
5 Frankie Gustine
6 Marty Marion
3 Johnny Mize
7 Enos Slaughter
4 Emil Verban
9 Dixie Walker
8 Harry Walker

1936 NL:

3 Ripper Collins
9 Frank Demaree
6 Leo Durocher
8 Augie Galan
2 Gabby Hartnett
4 Billy Herman
7 Joe Medwick
5 Pinky Whitney

1980 NL:

2 Johnny Bench
3 Steve Garvey
7 Dave Kingman
4 Davey Lopes
9 Dave Parker
5 Ken Reitz
6 Bill Russell
8 Reggie Smith

1933 NL:

6 Dick Bartell
8 Wally Berger
4 Frankie Frisch
7 Chick Hafey
9 Chuck Klein
5 Pepper Martin
3 Bill Terry
2 Jimmie Wilson

1941 NL:

4 Lonny Frey
5 Stan Hack
3 Johnny Mize
7 Terry Moore
9 Bill Nicholson
2 Mickey Owen
8 Pete Reiser
6 Arky Vaughan

1940 NL:

4 Billy Herman
5 Cookie Lavagetto
2 Ernie Lombardi
7 Joe Medwick
3 Johnny Mize
8 Terry Moore
6 Arky Vaughan
9 Max West

1985 NL:

3 Steve Garvey
7 Tony Gwynn
4 Tom Herr
2 Terry Kennedy
8 Dale Murphy
5 Graig Nettles
6 Ozzie Smith
9 Darryl Strawberry
   41. Morty Causa Posted: July 21, 2013 at 11:42 PM (#4500419)
Since so many here try to make Maris a Humpty Dumpty whenever they can, I like Bill's comments:

Pursuant to the question that asked whether a good 2 hitter helped protect a 3, does the same apply to a 4 hitter helping a 3 hitter? on the assumption that you will say not significantly (which I might be wrong about), Maris wasn't hitting homers at all in April of his 61 homer year while batting 4th, but once he moved to the third spot, ahead of Mantle, he took off. I have often observed that everyone with either 60 or 600 homers hit third, not fourth. Generally that meant the number 4 hitter limited intentional walks (unless I'm wrong in 1961 Maris was never intentionally walked), plus I would guess the 3 hitter gets 18-20 more plate appearances than the 4 hitter, or about 400 over a career. Your thoughts please.

1) Roger Maris in 1961 had a .654 slugging percentage while batting 3rd--and an .800 slugging percentage while batting 4th. He batted fourth in only three games in 1961, but hit two homers in those three games. The three games he batted 4th were May 24th, May 25th and May 28th. Mantle was out of the lineup those three games, and Berra batted behind Maris.

2) In 1960--the year BEFORE--Maris was ahead of Babe Ruth's home run pace into mid August. People always forget that; Maris hit 31 homers through July of that year, then had an injury (I think a hand injury) and hit only 4 homers in August and 4 in September. He was hitting 4th most of that year, and he won the MVP Award.

3) In 1960 Maris batted 3rd (ahead of Mantle) in 40 games, 4th (behind Mantle) in 65 games. His OPS was .750 batting 3rd, and 1.063 batting 4th.

4) In both 1960 and 1961, Maris had a higher OPS batting fourth than he did batting third.
   42. Jay Z Posted: July 22, 2013 at 12:04 AM (#4500433)
1952 AL in alphabetical order:

4 Bobby Avila
9 Hank Bauer
2 Yogi Berra
8 Dom DiMaggio
7 Dale Mitchell
6 Phil Rizzuto
3 Eddie Robinson
5 Al Rosen

1948 AL in alphabetical order:

6 Lou Boudreau
8 Hoot Evers
4 Joe Gordon
7 Tommy Henrich
5 Ken Keltner
3 George McQuinn
9 Pat Mullin
2 Buddy Rosar


In 1948 they had Williams and Dimaggio on the bench, which skews things a bit. At least they got the MVP on the field. In 1963 the big boppers historically were Killebrew and Yaz, who were on the bench. MVP Elston Howard was also on the bench. Wagner and Pepitone were unexceptional picks. Albie Pearson actually had a good year, but had a short career.
   43. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: July 22, 2013 at 12:04 AM (#4500434)
The 1962 AL All-Star starting lineup has 204.2 career WAR:

Earl Battey C 18.8
Jim Gentile 1B 17.0
Billy Moran 2B 3.1
Rich Rollins 3B 11.9
Luis Aparicio SS 55.7
Leon Wagner LF 11.9
Roger Maris CF 38.3
Rocky Colavito RF 44.7
Dave Stenhouse P 2.8

   44. Swoboda is freedom Posted: July 22, 2013 at 12:10 AM (#4500440)
Wouldn't the late 40s teams lose some WAR due to the war? Mize, for one, missed 3 seasons.
   45. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 22, 2013 at 12:15 AM (#4500441)
Hey Bill, has a selected all star even been traded from one league to the other prior to the game he was selected to being played?

Manny Trillo 1983?

carlos beltran, 2004.


Jeff Shaw 1998. He actually wore a Dodger uniform for the first time at the ASG.

Beltran was traded well before he was selected to the ASG, but he was selected for the Astros, despite only being a NLer for a few weeks.
   46. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 22, 2013 at 12:22 AM (#4500447)
I have often observed that everyone with either 60 or 600 homers hit third, not fourth.


ARod has hit 4th 1019 times, and 3rd 750 times.
   47. bobm Posted: July 22, 2013 at 12:35 AM (#4500452)
The 1962 AL All-Star starting lineup has 204.2 career WAR:

That's right - the second lineup alone has a lower WAR than 1963 AL. (My bad - coding error.)
   48. bobm Posted: July 22, 2013 at 12:45 AM (#4500453)
I have often observed that everyone with either 60 or 600 homers hit third, not fourth.

Hank Aaron:

                                             
I         Split    G   GS   PA   AB  HR   OPS
    Batting 1st    5    0    4    2   0  .500
    Batting 2nd   93   87  408  387  28  .952
    Batting 3rd 1807 1803 7897 6970 451  .940
    Batting 4th 1193 1186 5126 4568 261  .921
    Batting 5th   60   55  229  203   9  .803
    Batting 6th   40   26  126  113   2  .852
    Batting 7th   29   16   79   70   3  .752
    Batting 8th   21    0   21   12   1 1.274
    Batting 9th   50    0   51   39   0  .597


Sammy Sosa

                                          
I         Split   G  GS   PA   AB  HR  OPS
    Batting 1st 122 113  517  473  21 .785
    Batting 2nd  45  41  181  168   0 .506
    Batting 3rd 858 850 3788 3275 288 .984
    Batting 4th 773 760 3319 2978 215 .899
    Batting 5th 230 216  935  851  43 .750
    Batting 6th 154 137  564  521  20 .715
    Batting 7th 108  99  393  362  20 .716
    Batting 8th  57  49  191  178   2 .532
    Batting 9th   7   0    8    7   0 .661


Jim Thome

                                          
I         Split   G  GS   PA   AB  HR  OPS
    Batting 1st   4   0    4    3   0 .000
    Batting 2nd  14   2   21   18   0 .452
    Batting 3rd 553 550 2443 1982 155 .968
    Batting 4th 718 718 3096 2510 208 .992
    Batting 5th 561 556 2385 1941 142 .948
    Batting 6th 287 279 1156  939  55 .919
    Batting 7th 184 166  693  589  33 .947
    Batting 8th 135  97  410  349  15 .851
    Batting 9th  87   6  105   91   4 .844


Ken Griffey Jr

                                            
I         Split    G   GS   PA   AB  HR  OPS
    Batting 1st   12    5   30   26   1 .584
    Batting 2nd   83   68  311  279   8 .727
    Batting 3rd 2017 2014 8932 7731 530 .934
    Batting 4th  231  226  984  843  56 .854
    Batting 5th  166  161  677  607  22 .785
    Batting 6th   62   54  219  190   7 .803
    Batting 7th   30   17   81   74   2 .806
    Batting 8th   19    0   19   12   1 .868
    Batting 9th   51    0   51   39   3 .944

   49. bobm Posted: July 22, 2013 at 12:53 AM (#4500458)
Best All Star lineups?

1965 NL (alphabetically by last name)

9 Hank Aaron
5 Dick Allen
3 Ernie Banks
8 Willie Mays
4 Pete Rose
7 Willie Stargell
2 Joe Torre
6 Maury Wills

1934 AL (alphabetically by last name)

6 Joe Cronin
2 Bill Dickey
5 Jimmie Foxx
4 Charlie Gehringer
3 Lou Gehrig
7 Heinie Manush
9 Babe Ruth
8 Al Simmons

In the 1934 ASG IIRC Carl Hubbell struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in order.
   50. Don Malcolm Posted: July 22, 2013 at 01:19 AM (#4500466)
Continuing in Bob's train of stats:

Babe Ruth: 1746 g, 553 HR batting 3rd; 451 g, 148 HR batting 4th.
Willie Mays: 1939 g, 438 HR batting 3rd; 443 g, 111 HR batting 4th.
Barry Bonds: 1017 g, 329 HR batting 3rd; 852 g, 242 HR batting 4th; 533 g, 108 HR batting 5th.

Fact apropos of nothing: Roger Maris and Bill James are both inductees in the Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals.

Maris just barely won the MVP award in '60, edging out Mantle by three points. It was probably because of the stellar first half (27 HRs, .703 SLG, 1.101 OPS) and the injury that sidelined him for the second half of August. He hit 14 HR in June, and 15 in June of '61. It was his big HR month by a good distance overall. and a good bit of it came from those two months.
   51. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 22, 2013 at 01:46 AM (#4500471)
Mariano got the MVP by retiring 3 straight batters in the 8th inning. Chris Sale retired 6 straight batters in the 2nd and 3rd innings. If the 8th inning is worth more than the 2nd and 3rd combined, than what about Nathan in the 9th? MLB and the players don't treat this like a real competitive game, so who is MVP has no importance, but the MVP was a gift.

Sale was the best choice for MVP in a game that didn't have one.


MARIANO (MO) RIVERA
New York, A.L., 1995-2013

Compact Panamanian righthander best known for
winning the 2013 All-Star Game MVP. Preserved
3-run lead by retiring the fearsome trio of Jean
Segura, Allen Craig and Carlos Gomez, earning
a hold while lowering his career All-Star ERA to
whatever it is. Holds other records, also played
in postseason.
   52. Walt Davis Posted: July 22, 2013 at 01:46 AM (#4500472)
I've never thought about expressing it that way(not the pregnant part, but by emphasizing that the pitcher is always interested in getting the batter out...I imagine that if exceptions to this show up, it's in the frequency of walking a batter when they are followed by a pitcher batting. Even if it's not an IBB.

Except pitchers do pitch differently with men on base. Walks go up (especially with 1B open) and ISO goes down.

I often bring this split up because it seems so extreme ... Bonds with men on 2nd and 3rd only was intentionally walked 139 times in 271 PA. He was "unintentionally" walked another 14 times. He was intentionally walked over 25% of the other times that 1B was open with men on.

Other guys were not walked intentionally so often but Thome had a 536 OBP in -23 situations, walking over 1/3 of the time, with an ISO of "just" 180. Even a relative free-swinger like Cabrera has an OBP over 550 in that scenario, walking about 1/3 of the time (well, intentionally walked about 30% of the time). His ISO is just 140.

For the AL this year, in all -23 situations, the average line is 250/369/367 with a 1.15 K/BB (all situations it's over 2.5). About 1 of 11 PA is an IBB. For --3, OBP is 353, for -2- it's 347. ISOs there are about league average though but K/BB quite out of whack, especially --3.

Now I'm not sure any of that makes sense. With -23, you'd think pitching in a way that would limit singles would be the way to go, not pitching around power hitters. Bonds was not a good singles hitter so if walking him with -23 made sense, I'd think walking him with 12- made sense. Obviously you don't want him hitting a 3-run HR in either scenario. Even Adam Dunn -- I assume one of the worst singles hitters of all-time -- is constantly walked with -23 (208/473/386, intentionally walked 1/5 of the time).
   53. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 22, 2013 at 07:02 AM (#4500488)
Jeff Shaw 1998. He actually wore a Dodger uniform for the first time at the ASG.


Heh, I was coming here to say that.

It kicked off an interesting series of trades for the Reds. They got Paul Konerko and Dennys Reyes for Shaw, flipped Konerko for Mike Cameron, and then used Cameron in the package that brought Griffey to Cincinnati.
   54. Mike Emeigh Posted: July 22, 2013 at 09:09 AM (#4500514)
Being ahead of Ruth's 1927 pace into August meant little or nothing - people tend to forget that Ruth hit 26 of his 60 in 1927 from August 1 on (including 17 in September). That's one heck of a closing kick.

-- MWE

   55. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 22, 2013 at 09:26 AM (#4500528)

It kicked off an interesting series of trades for the Reds. They got Paul Konerko and Dennys Reyes for Shaw, flipped Konerko for Mike Cameron, and then used Cameron in the package that brought Griffey to Cincinnati.


The link I posted is a hilarious example of how bad a GM Tommy LaSorda was. Not only did he trade away two BA Top 100 prospects, one of which became an All-Star, he did so to get a closer, when his team was 12.5 games back. He also didn't know that when a player on a multi-year deal is dealt, he can request a trade. Shaw did exactly that, negotiating an even more lucrative deal.
   56. The District Attorney Posted: July 22, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4500533)
Thanks for those who did the work on the All-Star team strength issue. I suppose it's more than predictable that the worst would be the AL of the early to mid '60s, and the best the NL of the same era.

(Although I suppose one lesson learned is that guys rarely get elected as starting All-Stars for no reason; just because I haven't heard of the guys 70 years later doesn't necessarily mean they were no good. When I look at the 1980 and 1985 NL, I think "well, that's not horrible horrible", but surely that's entirely because I know the players better.)

(Funny that in 1980, the guy who was probably the best overall player of the four Dodger infielders is the only one who doesn't make it... while Ken Reitz starts instead. Has an entire team's starting IF or OF ever started an All-Star Game?)
   57. SoSH U at work Posted: July 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM (#4500592)
Being ahead of Ruth's 1927 pace into August meant little or nothing - people tend to forget that Ruth hit 26 of his 60 in 1927 from August 1 on (including 17 in September). That's one heck of a closing kick.


I'm sick of players like Babe Ruth and Albert Belle and their incredible closing kicks.
   58. McCoy Posted: July 22, 2013 at 11:19 AM (#4500629)
Tommy Lasorda also did a trade that amounted to Ted Lilly for three pre-FA years of Mark Grudzielanek. Though Malone as GM would end up buying out his final two pre-FA years as part of a 4 year contract.
   59. bjhanke Posted: July 22, 2013 at 10:44 PM (#4501481)
In 1963, the entire Cardinal infield started the ASG: Bill White, Julian Javier, Ken Boyer, Dick Groat. There's an asterisk to this. Javier wasn't elected to start, but the elected starter (Mazeroski, I think) was hurt and could not play. That's the only occasion I know of. The Cincy infield would have all started the ASG in 1957, when the local paper rigged the vote (preprinted ballots every day for 2 months with all the Cincy starters filled in in advance), except that the support for Musial at 1B was too strong for even the fix to overcome.

Hank Sauer (comment #6) had it worse than the quote makes out. Sauer was drafted by the Reds out of the Yankee system in 1940. The Reds had just won two pennants and a WS with an outfield that produced exactly one decent hitting year (Ival Goodman, 1939) in those two years. That gave manager McKechnie a huge amount of credibility. You couldn't very well tell him that he could not win with an outfield that didn't hit when he had just spent two years winning with that outfield. In actual fact, McKechnie was riding the career peaks of his four infielders (Frank McCormick, Billy Werber, Lonnie Frey, Billy Myers, with Eddie Joost on the bench) and two pitchers (Paul Derringer, Bucky Walters), plus, for some reason I don't understand, he was able to live with Ernie Lombardi's glove at catcher, which gave him one legitimate bat in the lineup.

The team came off their peaks in 1941 and started to slip. Sauer auditioned VERY well, but McKechnie could not live with Sauer's glove and, as I said, there was no one to tell him he had to. Then WWII came. Sauer spent three years in the military, while McKechnie got three years of excuses because he could always say that his best players were not all available to him. After the war, Sauer returned and auditioned VERY well again, but McKechnie was still there. After that season, though, McKechnie did get fired, giving the manager job to Johnny Neun. Neun had been listening to McKechnie, though, and so sent Sauer back to AAA AGAIN, in spite of another VERY good audition. The team did not improve, and Neun finally put Sauer in the outfield because he realized that he needed a bat, especially since Lombardi was no longer there and hitting well.

So, it's not just the late 1940s. Hank Sauer was buried in the Reds farm system from 1941 through 1946, when he was obviously one of the best outfielders on the team. He was just on the wrong team at the worst possible time for a player of his type (all bat, no glove). - Brock Hanke
   60. PreservedFish Posted: July 22, 2013 at 10:59 PM (#4501489)
Sauer looked like he was 50 years old when he was 30. That couldn't have helped.

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