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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bill James Mailbag - 8/8/14 - 8/17/14

Could we get Elway wrestling, Eisenhower playing quarterback, and Randy Savage as Supreme Allied Commander?

Is there any systematic account available of the changes over the years in player movement and roster utilization, both team to team and majors to minors, both the rules governing this stuff and the actual practices? I know in general terms that things have changed immensely since I was a newbie baseball fan about the same time you were. The tipping point for me came in 2010 when I realized that my Giants were allowed to leave a healthy season-long rotation starter (bad as he was) off the postseason roster. To me, that kind of move, while it might make strategic sense, really subverts the idea of a baseball “team” that we’re supposed to root for. Somehow I doubt that would have happened in 1962.

I’m not aware of their being any such account, but then, I’m a poor resource for that kind of information, since I don’t really study the research the other people do. Generally. I agree that. . .well, you didn’t EXACTLY say this, but. . .I agree that more restrictive rules would be appropriate in some areas. In a perfect game, should not be able to leave somebody who has been a key part of your team all year off your post-season roster unless he’s 80% dead. And I’m CERTAIN that I’m about to hear from somebody that we left so-and-so off our roster in 2007 or something. . ..

June 26 1987 at Yankee Stadium… Schiraldi gave up a walk, a bunt and a single to lose the game in the bottom of the tenth, 12-11. Dave Henderson batted for Gedman in the top of the 10th, which meant that Marc Sullivan caught the tenth. Wonder if that was the highest leverage inning of Sullivan’s “career?”

If Sullivan didn’t have leverage, he wouldn’t have had a career.

An injured Pedro coming in to relieve Bret Saberhagen in a high-scoring game after 3, and then proceeded to mow everyone down. That was beautiful to watch. Pedro recently talked about that for a few minutes in an hour-long podcast with Jonah Keri. Maybe someone can cue it up. Pedro is fascinating to listen to.

He is. I wonder if Pedro has perhaps the highest density of memorable games to total games pitched of anybody who has a Hall of Fame career?

Hey Bill, I was thinking about Derek Jeter. If he wasn’t a Yankee I would look at him and see that he likes beautiful women and baseball. (Not sure of the order) I would like and root for him. What can I do about this? Steve

Yeah, well, I have a neighbor who’s a real nice guy, too, but I don’t feel compelled to stand beside the sidewalk and applaud every time he goes out to pick up his newspaper.

I have also thought since I became aware of Voros McCracken’s papers on pitchers non-effect on batted ballsl that you were 90% of the way there with DER . If it makes you feel better, in this area you are Henri Poincare to Voros’ Einstein.

It was my childhood ambition to someday be compared to Henri Poincare.

John Elway had pretty impressive stats in his one minor league season with the Yankees. In 1982 at age 22, he had 185 plate appearances in low A with a .318 batting average, .432 on-base percentage, .464 slugging percentage. Who is the most promising baseball player (in minors, college) who never ended up playing because he pursued another career, be it football, poetry, or whatever else?

Dwight Eisenhower?

Highest density of memorable games for a non-HOFer with significant games pitched is probably Maglie, right? He wasn’t just in the right places at the right time, but at his peak whenever opportunity arose. I read a book a few years back that showcased the most memorable games. I’m pretty sure Maglie not only had more of them than anyone, but appeared in a stretch of something like four out of five.

I’ll take your word for it. It’s that, ,or cook up a formula. .. ..

The District Attorney Posted: August 17, 2014 at 02:04 PM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bill james, derek jeter, henri poincare, history, john elway, pedro martinez, red sox, sabermetrics, sal maglie, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Matthew E Posted: August 17, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4772887)
I like the part about where Gary Huckabay played for the Blue Jays.
   2. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 17, 2014 at 05:18 PM (#4773003)
Ike was a ballplayer?
   3. BDC Posted: August 17, 2014 at 05:27 PM (#4773011)
I did not know this, but there's an entire Eisenhower controversy over whether he'd played pro baseball before playing college football for Army.

The controversy seems to have arisen way, way ex post facto, and maybe to have been juiced by some Eddie-Scissons-type reminiscences on Eisenhower's part.

EDIT: I love the implication on that Wiki page that if Eisenhower had played pro baseball, and if that had come out while he was a cadet, then he would never have been commissioned as an officer. Presumably the Normandy landing would have failed in 1944 and we'd all be speaking German today :)
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: August 17, 2014 at 06:12 PM (#4773038)
Presumably the Normandy landing would have failed in 1944 and we'd all be speaking German today :)


Just watched that episode of Star Trek: Enterprise... :)

   5. McCoy Posted: August 17, 2014 at 06:39 PM (#4773052)
Wouldn't we all be speaking Russian?
   6. Bhaakon Posted: August 17, 2014 at 07:41 PM (#4773099)
I agree that more restrictive rules would be appropriate in some areas. In a perfect game, should not be able to leave somebody who has been a key part of your team all year off your post-season roster unless he’s 80% dead. And I’m CERTAIN that I’m about to hear from somebody that we left so-and-so off our roster in 2007 or something.


The 'problem' in this case is that the postseason baseball is fundamentally different from regular season ball in that the generous number of off-days allow (all but requires, really) teams to use a 4 man rotation, and that 2010 Giants team was one of those rare squads that had an actual, honest to god fifth starter.
   7. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 17, 2014 at 10:23 PM (#4773188)
That's a good joke about Sullivan, whose only talent was being born to the right father.
   8. Hank G. Posted: August 17, 2014 at 10:41 PM (#4773198)
James has stated several times that he doesn’t keep up with the research that other people publish. Considering his position with the Red Sox, wouldn’t he be expected to be current with all available research?
   9. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:02 PM (#4773211)
#8: I can't see that it would, if the nature of his job--as I'm pretty sure it is--is that his boss comes to him and says "We'd like you to study this issue and write us a report about it" and he does so. In fact his bosses may view it as a feature, not a bug, if he's ignorant of other research already done on a subject he's studying for them.
   10. bobm Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:20 AM (#4773268)
Here is the highest LI plate appearance for Sullivan.

                                                                                                                                                             
Cr#   Gm#       Date  Tm Opp   Pitcher    Score Result Inn RoB Out RBI  WPA RE24   LI        Play Description
18      1 1986-05-19 BOS MIN Ron Davis tied 7-7    HBP  b9 123   2   1 0.34 1.00 6.39 *WALK-OFF*:*ENDED GAME*


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/18/2014.
   11. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:35 AM (#4773279)
That's a good joke about Sullivan, whose only talent was being born to the right father.

His rant against the existence of Marc Sullivan on a major league roster in the 1988 Abstract is some classic Bill James.

For one thing, they were playing this Godawful catcher. I'm sorry if this is harsh, but there is nepotism here, and as petty as it is, it offends me. ... After he went back to the minors and hit .229 and .204, they decided he was ready to play for the major league team. In 1985 and 1986, as a part timer, Sullivan hit .174 and .193. In 1987 he opened the season as the Red Sox regular catcher. We should all find our opportunities so abundant.

What I would like to know is, where the hell does Haywood Sullivan get off trying to make his precious little boy an exception to the rules that the rest of the baseball world obeys? The most basic rule of sports is that in the effort to win, you put the team goals ahead of your personal agenda. ... They (the public) would be appalled if a player stated publicly that he was playing for himself first and didn't care much whether the Sox won or lost. But Haywood Sullivan wants to add, "Of course, that doesn't apply to me."

And where is the watchdog? What does the press say? They tell us that Marc Sullivan is such a nice kid. Well, who the hell cares if he is a nice kid? Do you have any idea how many nice kids there are in AAA ball? ... It's not fair to Red Sox fans and it's not fair to their other players.

I call on Peter Uebberoth to intervene and end to (sic) this disgraceful situation. If Uebberoth really cares about the integrity of the game, he should tell Haywood to get Marc Sullivan's sorry ass out of a Red Sox uniform by sundown. Al Campanis's son was a catcher, too; he was about as good as this kid, a lifetime .147 hitter. When Campanis took over the Dodgers his first official act was to trade his own son. He didn't love his son any less than Haywood Sullivan does. He just had the character to say, "Son, the rules are just the same for you as they as for anybody else." And if Haywood Sullivan was half a man, he would have done the same thing.
   12. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 18, 2014 at 05:47 AM (#4773284)
Hey Bill, I was thinking about Derek Jeter. If he wasn’t a Yankee I would look at him and see that he likes beautiful women and baseball. (Not sure of the order) I would like and root for him. What can I do about this? Steve

Yeah, well, I have a neighbor who’s a real nice guy, too, but I don’t feel compelled to stand beside the sidewalk and applaud every time he goes out to pick up his newspaper.


No need to applaud as every time the paper is to his left he won't reach it anyway...

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