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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Fallacy of lively ball

As many of you know, I was an adviser to Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, in regards to player evaluation and players acquisitions and trades.

It was a long time ago, however!

I have been listening to ‘sports radio’, and continue to be infuriated at the nonsense in regards to the current record increase in Home Runs (HRs), that these sports ‘commentators’ repeat, daily.

Rather than admit that the disgusting ‘Steroid Era’ was a creation of the media, these sports ‘commentators’ cover their former mistakes with a new one: “The ball is lively”.

The same thing happened when Babe Ruth came on the scene. A faux “Lively Ball Era” was created, with the faux creation of “The Dead Ball Era” as its predecessor.

It was an insult to Babe Ruth, to claim that the reason he hit HRs, was the ‘lively ball’, rather than the reality of smaller stadiums and, most importantly, a change in batting style, by Babe Ruth, that created those HRs.

In the 1990’s, with a Black baseball player, Barry Bonds, smashing MLB HR records, along with a plethora of other sluggers hitting HRs at record rates, a new ‘explanation’ needed to be found to explain the cause of the new explosion of HRs.

An additional factor, pushing this nonsense, was that the MLB Baseball player union had just beaten the MLB billionaire owners, once again, in the 1994/5 lockout that prematurely ended the season, resulting in the cancellation of the 1994 MLB “World Series”. (I was an adviser to the Montreal Expos, the team with the best record in MLB that year, as well as the Boston Red Sox)

“The Steroid Era” nonsense was completely based upon the fact that HRs had increased to record numbers, with the result that there was a ‘witch hunt’ that was created against the greatest players in the game, at that time.

The height of the “Witch Hunt” came when militarist Senator John McCain, a buddy of President George W. Bush, who had been one of the MLB team owners who had been repeatedly defeated by the MLB players union, dragged the helpless players before a congressional hearing, with all the media focusing their venom on the supposedly “cheating” players.

As a result of the ‘witch hunt’, MLB star players were driven out of the game, in the vicious nationwide attack that followed, and the MLB player union, for the first time, was forced to make concessions on the union contract, especially in regards to “drug testing”.

The MLB team owners had finally won, for THE FIRST TIME! The owners finally had obtained “peace”, in player relations, with union contracts signed without a strike or a lockout, after the owners had lost, every time, in several previous contract disputes.

So how do these sports ‘commentators’ explain the fact that MLB hitters, TODAY, are hitting HRs at a pace that would make the “Steroid Era” look like the “Dead Ball Era”, in comparison!

To get out of their quandary, these sports ‘commentators’ have invented a new “Lively Ball Era” fictional story.

The reason that the players in the “Steroid Era” increased HR production, is the very same as when Babe Ruth changed baseball and it is the same reason for today’s ‘explosion’ in HRs.

The hitters had changed their batting style, based on the new data that showed that a change in batting style would increase offensive production.

The reason that TODAY’s hitters are hitting even more HRs, is the continued improvement in the data analysis of batting.

The ‘solution’ to the quandary is just that simple, but these sports commentators, (such as Mike Francesa of WFAN), cannot admit they were wrong.

It is time that Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and all the victims of the steroid witch hunt, be exonerated and apologized to, and those that belong in the MLB Hall Of Fame, should be installed immediately.

The “Steroid Era” fantasy has been disproved by the current MLB player performances..

Time to tell the corporate sports media ‘commentators’ to:

GET OVER IT!

caiman Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:23 AM | 150 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: lively ball, steriods

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   1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:12 AM (#5880639)
Nice day here in Pittsburgh.
   2. John DiFool2 Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:13 AM (#5880640)
Your utter failure to even mention the "clean" baseballs that came into the game in the wake of Ray Chapman's death casts doubt on the rest of your conclusions (the dead ball era baseballs tended to be soggy tobacco-stained messes since they were rarely removed from play). As is your failure to cite numerous press releases about how the modern ball has indeed changed (not so much in terms of coefficient of restitution but in terms of aerodynamics, seams lower surface smoother and such).
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:17 AM (#5880642)
yes-the-baseball-is-different-again-an-astrophysicist-examines-this-years-baseballs-and-breaks-down-the-changes/

Seriously, no. This has been scientifically proven. The ball has been changed multiple times over the last 10 years.

The 2019 ball has lower seams, smoother leather, and is rounder. Facts are stubborn things.

Everyone needs to read this article. Use the free trial if you don't want to subscribe, but you should subscribe. The Athletic is doing the best baseball reporting out there.
   4. jmurph Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:18 AM (#5880643)
Ummmmmmmm sorry, what's happening in this post?
   5. The Run Fairy Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:30 AM (#5880650)
This also totally ignores what happened in AAA when they switched to the MLB ball.
   6. DL from MN Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:46 AM (#5880658)
Is this one of those "count the logical fallacies" articles? I think I saw strawman, ad hominem, anecdotal, appeal to authority and begging the question.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:47 AM (#5880661)
I think this sets a record for use of scare quotes on this website.
   8. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5880663)
The article link just goes to this post. Where's the original, & what idiot is the author?
   9. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5880664)
I have been listening to ‘sports radio’, and continue to be infuriated at the nonsense in regards to the current record increase in Home Runs (HRs)


So that's what HR stands for.
   10. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: September 19, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5880666)
The HR department downstairs doesn't have even so much as a batting glove on hand. What a disappointment.
   11. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 19, 2019 at 10:04 AM (#5880670)
The article link just goes to this post. Where's the original, & what idiot is the author?


I'm pretty sure that the "article" IS the post (note how nothing's block-quoted) and the author is "caiman". And #3 and #5 have sufficiently answered the content: the ball is absolutely different and that difference has been the primary (actually, what I've seen, it's the ONLY) source of the recent surge in home runs.
   12. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: September 19, 2019 at 10:19 AM (#5880676)
This also totally ignores what happened in AAA when they switched to the MLB ball.
And just to be clear, AAA home runs before and after the introduction of the MLB ball:

League  2018    2019    Change
IL      1555    2440    
+56.9%
PCL     2097    3312    +57.9%
Total   3652    5752    +57.5

   13. PreservedFish Posted: September 19, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5880677)
Fairly sure that the author is Mike Gimbel, who was one of the most famous statheads in the 90's, and is also a very committed socialist.
   14. Hot Wheeling American Posted: September 19, 2019 at 10:22 AM (#5880678)
Gimbel is gone, Fish. Looong gone ... you're Gimbel.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 19, 2019 at 10:23 AM (#5880679)
Is he aware that you can have more than one sentence in a paragraph? Look, I'm doing it right now!
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: September 19, 2019 at 10:24 AM (#5880680)
Fairly sure that the author is Mike Gimbel, who was one of the most famous statheads in the 90's, and is also a very committed socialist.


That was my guess. It carries that unmistakable Gimbel quality of borderline insanity.
   17. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: September 19, 2019 at 10:35 AM (#5880684)
I'm pretty sure that the "article" IS the post (note how nothing's block-quoted) and the author is "caiman".


Ahhh ... thanks. I'm not yet sufficiently awake to grasp such subtleties. And won't be till at least noon, if then.
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 19, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5880685)
I didn't find it a very convincing argument until the all caps and exclamation point at the end to "get over it." Well done.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 19, 2019 at 11:01 AM (#5880698)
Fairly sure that the author is Mike Gimbel, who was one of the most famous statheads in the 90's, and is also a very committed socialist.

Like a very-large welfare state "socialist" or an actual gov't owns all the industry socialist?
   20. Belfry Bob Posted: September 19, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5880709)
Is this one of those 'White House Press Releases' I've heard so much about?
   21. PreservedFish Posted: September 19, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5880719)
Like a very-large welfare state "socialist" or an actual gov't owns all the industry socialist?

Like a "Karl Marx was right" socialist.
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 19, 2019 at 11:29 AM (#5880725)
Like a "Karl Marx was right" socialist.

Wow! Didn't know there were any of those left.
   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 19, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5880727)
Wow! Didn't know there were any of those left.
Go visit any college sociology department.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 19, 2019 at 11:42 AM (#5880735)
Go visit any college sociology department.

Didn't know there were any of those left either ;-)
   25. QLE Posted: September 19, 2019 at 12:38 PM (#5880762)
rather than the reality of smaller stadiums


The problem with that is rather simple- there isn't really a correlation between the uptick in offensive levels during the 1920s (and it should be noted that it wasn't just a power uptick- batting averages grew massively as well) and the introduction of new stadiums.

The height of the “Witch Hunt” came when militarist Senator John McCain, a buddy of President George W. Bush, who had been one of the MLB team owners who had been repeatedly defeated by the MLB players union, dragged the helpless players before a congressional hearing, with all the media focusing their venom on the supposedly “cheating” players.


The major hearings on steroids were in the House of Representatives, and the chair of the relevant committee, Tom Davis, seems to have been fairly obviously motivated by two separate goals- increased exposure for plans to run for the Senate and efforts to stay relevant in a rapidly transitioning House seat.

Overall, this is an interesting demonstration of the horseshoe theory of politics in effect- our leading conspiracy-monger on steroids normally is a guy with diametrically-opposed politics, but there are elements of their arguments that seem identical to me.

Seriously, no. This has been scientifically proven. The ball has been changed multiple times over the last 10 years.


Understandable that you'd try to make this argument- the problem is that the guy you're arguing with is someone who has publicly stated that he thinks science is a conspiracy against left-wing thought (I really wish I were kidding), so it's probably a waste of time....
   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 19, 2019 at 12:46 PM (#5880765)
someone who has publicly stated that he thinks science is a conspiracy against left-wing thought
...again demonstrating the horseshoe theory of politics.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 19, 2019 at 12:58 PM (#5880768)
Understandable that you'd try to make this argument- the problem is that the guy you're arguing with is someone who has publicly stated that he thinks science is a conspiracy against left-wing thought (I really wish I were kidding), so it's probably a waste of time....

Wow.
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:03 PM (#5880769)
I see this as nothing that a switch to decaf can't cure.
   29. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 19, 2019 at 01:10 PM (#5880770)
Just piling on here, but why, how and what the ####?
   30. Captain Supporter Posted: September 19, 2019 at 03:54 PM (#5880845)
This analysis (rant? screed? editorial? incoherent mess?) is so bad it is actually difficult to finish reading it. It might work well for a textbook as an example of how not to write if you want to actually convince anybody of something.
   31. Captain Supporter Posted: September 19, 2019 at 03:59 PM (#5880846)
This analysis (rant? screed? editorial? incoherent mess?) is so bad it is actually difficult to finish reading it. It might work well for a textbook as an example of how not to write if you want to actually convince anybody of something.
   32. Walt Davis Posted: September 19, 2019 at 04:17 PM (#5880856)
Isn't the better question "why is this posted on this site?" Does caiman have keys? Did somebody with keys not bother to read this before posting?

If you want to glean rationality from the post ... yes, the Ruth revolution involved other factors in addition to the live ball; the sillyball era involved other factors in addition to PEDs; the current era involves other factors in addition to a live ball. But given what happened in AAA this year, it certainly seems like the ball is having a big impact.

The empirical question, answered at least in part in the physics article, is to what extent the changes at MLB over the last few years can be tied to changes in the ball over those years. We were in neo-deadball in 2014 and first half 2015, jump 2nd half 2015, big 2016, bigger 2017, scaled-back 2018, even bigger 2019. How much of that is continual changes in the ball?
   33. DL from MN Posted: September 19, 2019 at 04:24 PM (#5880861)
We were in neo-deadball in 2014 and first half 2015, jump 2nd half 2015, big 2016, bigger 2017, scaled-back 2018, even bigger 2019.


Clearly data analysis in batting was terrible in 2014 through the first half of 2015, improved steadily from mid-2015 through 2017, took a step backwards in 2018 and jumped ahead again in 2019.</sarcasm>
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 19, 2019 at 04:30 PM (#5880862)
I think we can just file this under "contrarian gonna contrare."
   35. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: September 19, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5880875)
I think we can just file this under "contrarian gonna contrare."


ElRoy. Wrong, as usual.
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 19, 2019 at 05:21 PM (#5880888)
KB, you ignorant slut.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: September 19, 2019 at 06:58 PM (#5880913)
"Barrels" -- total, per BBE, per PA ... then AEV and LA

2019 8,773 7.4 5.0 88.1 12.2
2018 8,451 6.7 4.6 87.7 11.7
2017 7,915 6.2 4.3 86.7 11.1
2016 7,954 6.2 4.3 87.7 10.8
2015 6,943 5.3 3.8 87.3 10.1

"Barrel" is based on EV and LA. Based on those 5 data points, it seems LA increase has been the main driver behind the increase in barrels. It's interesting that all those barrels in 2018 didn't result in more HR than 2017.

It seems to me the ball wouldn't have a big effect on EV unless it's more elastic (or rebound-y or whatever the physics term is) or its characteristics (lower seams) leads to more meatballs. I'm assuming EV is measured pretty much straight off the bat, before a lowered drag has had any real effect. LA would seem even less affected by the ball.

So none of that is really surprising -- batters have said they're are focusing more on LA and they have succeeded. So how much of the HR trend is explained by these changes?

Some other issues with these data ... (1) They're just averages and, especially for things like barrels, the trend in the average and the trend in the 'sweet spot' don't have to be identical. (2) We are essentially assuming that statcast measurement techniques and quality are identical over these 5 seasons such that 2015 aggregates can be directly compared with 2019 -- that's unlikely to be exactly true but hopefully close enough not to worry about much.

   38. Greg Pope Posted: September 19, 2019 at 08:19 PM (#5880953)
Isn't the better question "why is this posted on this site?" Does caiman have keys? Did somebody with keys not bother to read this before posting?

I agree. I mean, it's not like this site is a democracy or anything, I do get that. But I'd like to know why this was published.

If the answer is "None of your business, the people with the keys can publish/approve whatever they want", that's a legitimate answer.
   39. QLE Posted: September 19, 2019 at 08:20 PM (#5880954)
Does caiman have keys?


Based on several other posts he has that follow the same rough form, I would say so.
   40. stevegamer Posted: September 19, 2019 at 09:43 PM (#5881004)
I thought there was a general thought that one shouldn't self-link, but this is to a whole new level.

Since banning seems impossible, I guess ignore list will have to do.
   41. Jack Sommers Posted: September 20, 2019 at 02:16 AM (#5881120)
The Rise and Fall of Mike Gimbel. by Rob Neyer, from 2002
   42. BrianBrianson Posted: September 20, 2019 at 03:30 AM (#5881122)
The empirical question, answered at least in part in the physics article, is to what extent the changes at MLB over the last few years can be tied to changes in the ball over those years. We were in neo-deadball in 2014 and first half 2015, jump 2nd half 2015, big 2016, bigger 2017, scaled-back 2018, even bigger 2019. How much of that is continual changes in the ball?


The answer is "Every time we know why something changed, it was the ball (or, the couple times they jiggered the mound, fine).

So, in the absence of really compelling evidence to the contrary, you should assume all the changes in the run environment are probably due to the ball. Certainly, the Liveball Era, the Balata Ball, The Steroid Era, The Current Era; these are all a result of the ball. It's probably wise to thing 1987 was the ball, even if we don't know what happened.

It's like the Holocene extinctions. Every time we know what drove the animals to extinctions, it was humans showing up and eating them (or bringing rats, cats, goats that ate 'em). When we don't know, it usually corresponds to when humans showed up, but there's probably some climatary thing or nonsense you can point to as well. But you default assumption should be it was the humans.
   43. bookbook Posted: September 20, 2019 at 08:31 AM (#5881129)
I’m pretty sure science is a conspiracy against rightwing thought—but that doesn’t make me in favor of rightwing thought, rather the contrary.
   44. SoSH U at work Posted: September 20, 2019 at 09:27 AM (#5881140)
I thought there was a general thought that one shouldn't self-link,


Jim has given the practice the OK.

   45. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 20, 2019 at 09:32 AM (#5881142)
Anyone can submit something to the site. Type up your own rant and see if Jim publishes it.

   46. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: September 20, 2019 at 10:14 AM (#5881151)
Like a very-large welfare state "socialist" or an actual gov't owns all the industry socialist?

Like a "Karl Marx was right" socialist.

Wow! Didn't know there were any of those left.


I always preferred Groucho, myself...
   47. caiman Posted: September 20, 2019 at 10:15 AM (#5881152)
Yes, I (Mike Gimbel) wrote the article.

The correlation between home runs and a 'lively ball', is just that, a correlation.

Correlation proves NOTHING!

Science requires proving CAUSALITY.

Because umbrellas are seen in increased use, after a drought ends, does not prove that umbrellas had anything to do with ending the drought.

I was shocked when I went to Wikipedia and saw it stated (falsely) that the lively ball was introduced during the 1920 season after Ray Chapman was killed.

As proof was listed the great season that Babe Ruth had in 1920. My own RPA study showed that Babe Ruth's season in 1920 was the best year of his entire illustrious career, with a .294 RPA.

What is the problem? Ray Chapman was hit by the ball on August 16, 1920 and died the following day, near the END of the 1920 season.

Unless a 'time machine' was being used in 1920, there is no way that a 'lively' ball could have been introduced for the 1920 season "AFTER CHAPMAN'S DEATH"!!!

The 'white ball', in reality, a clean ball, was required for the 1921 season and thereafter.

Therefore, if anything, Babe Ruth's tremendous 1920 season is actual proof against the fable of the 'lively ball era'. PERIOD.

In addition, Babe Ruth's 1919 season presaged his 1920 "explosion'. His .268 RPA in 1919 was the 5th best of his career, and almost identical to his RPA's in those three other years that were very, very slightly better, 1921 @ .270, 1923 @ .271 and 1926 @ .274.

When I looked at the hitters and pitchers, across the "Lively Ball" faux 'crossover', 'Dead ball era" vs. "Lively Ball Era", the performances of hitters and pitchers did not change, in regards to RPA values, just as Babe Ruth's performance failed to change.

There was one player, Alex Rodriguez, who admitted using steroids during three years as a player in Texas, during the faux "Steroid Era".

I showed, in a previous article, that I wrote here on this very website, that AROD's performance actually declined during those three years, and improved AFTER the three years ended.

When I tore my rotator cuff, around the age of 70, my doctor gave me two steroid injections (months apart), to heal the tear. Steroids are used to heal injuries. It is a medicine.

Players do cheat. No question. But use of medicine does not PROVE cheating. Use of an 'illegal substance' does not prove cheating, otherwise take Babe Ruth and every player out of the HOF.

Babe Ruth, himself, admitted to using an 'illegal substance' ALCOHOL (BEER), during prohibition, because it gave him strength. Babe Ruth bragged about eating an item loaded with testosterone (steroids are a form of testosterone)in eating Sheep's Testicles, to give him strength.

"Greenies" were commonly consumed, all across MLB, decades prior to the 'Steroids Panic'.

Two great hitters parks were introduced into MLB in the 1990's in Colorado and Arizona. Was that the cause of the increase? Not likely, even if it did so very slightly, in my opinion. San Francisco and Miami have new parks that are very 'pitcher friendly', although, for the most part, stadiums have become smaller and more hitter friendly. The parks are, in my opinion, the 'lesser cause' of the home run surge.

There has been a surge in power. Whence it comes?

It comes exactly as happened in 1921 and onwards: A new hitting style was introduced by Babe Ruth.

The data revolution, of which I participated in and helped move forward, started in the 1990's and was the immanent cause of the offensive 'explosion'.

Isn't that what the very purpose of the new data was supposed to do?

My own books showed that the RPA was an effective way of measuring offensive production.

The RPA showed how on base ability was far more effective in measuring offensive production, than was the batting average.

The RPA showed that power, in the form of extra-base hits, especially home runs, was most effective in run production.

The RPA showed that a combination of onbase ability and power was the way to measure a hitter's ability.

As the new data began to be recognized as having value to hitters, it changed how hitters began to be trained. "Launch angle' entered the baseball lexicon.

The place that this would be seen first, would be the minor leagues, not the Majors. That is where the new crop of sluggers would be created FIRST.

In fact, due to the new'FAD', the minors would, naturally, over show this impact, as every team re-arranged and went overboard in its new teaching process of creating home runs.

Note: Senator McCain played a pivotal role in getting the House committee to act. Committees in the House do not arise on their own. They are political results, not political causes. Committee chairpersons are usually third rate 'back benchers'. Anyone who was 'half-awake' at the time, knows that John McCain played a huge role in setting the Steroid frenzy in motion.

GET OVER IT!!!

Put Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in the HOF and apologize to all the defamed players!

And please, please correct Wikipedia's nonsense about the 'lively ball' introduced in the 1920 season, which is factually FALSE.
   48. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: September 20, 2019 at 10:18 AM (#5881153)
Every time we know what drove the animals to extinctions, it was humans showing up and eating them (or bringing rats, cats, goats that ate 'em).


Perhaps, she'll die...
   49. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 20, 2019 at 10:21 AM (#5881155)
I have keys to the site due to writing for Sox Therapy (the blog related to the defending World Series champions, gotta get that in while I still can). Occasionally I will approve some submissions if I see them waiting ideally as a means of helping out The Jim (he’s never said I should or should not do this). I’ll be honest, I don’t really look that closely at them, unless there is an obvious double dip on an article I kind of just clear them through. I did not approve this but I will admit if I had seen “Fallacy of Lively Ball” waiting in the queue I almost certainly would have given it the A-OK.
   50. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 20, 2019 at 10:30 AM (#5881159)
So the answer to my question in 15 is a resounding no.
   51. Itchy Row Posted: September 20, 2019 at 10:52 AM (#5881161)
No.

The answer to your question in 15 is.

A RESOUNDING NO.
   52. flournoy Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:01 AM (#5881165)
And please, please correct Wikipedia's nonsense about the 'lively ball' introduced in the 1920 season, which is factually FALSE.


Go do it yourself.
   53. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:01 AM (#5881166)
Actually, in fairness, there are a few multi-sentence paragraphs in there, notably the one about Babe Ruth and Sheep's Testicles.
   54. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:02 AM (#5881167)
Fascists. The graf starting with "Two great hitters parks" contains no fewer than 4 sentences.
   55. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:02 AM (#5881169)
Multi-ounce coke to ElRoy.
   56. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5881172)
Despite my rule to never argue with a crazy person...

There was one player, Alex Rodriguez, who admitted using steroids during three years as a player in Texas, during the faux "Steroid Era".

I showed, in a previous article, that I wrote here on this very website, that AROD's performance actually declined during those three years, and improved AFTER the three years ended.


OPS+ from 1998-2000 - 144. WAR batting runs from the same period - 122

OPS+ from 2001-2003 - 155. Batting runs - 151

OPS+ 2004-2006 - 146. Batting runs - 130

It would take a lot of mathematical gymnastics to show that the middle period was the worst of the three.

Note: Senator McCain played a pivotal role in getting the House committee to act. Committees in the House do not arise on their own.


This is demonstrably untrue. The only thing Republican House members hate more than Democratic House members are Senators.
   57. PreservedFish Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:10 AM (#5881173)
Mental gymnastics is clearly not a problem here.
   58. Lassus Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:17 AM (#5881175)
Is it just me, or is this a brief, glorious return to a previous era of Primer?
   59. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:20 AM (#5881177)
I was thinking the same thing - it's like the return of Sabermetrics V1. I suppose it's good to have the occasional reminder of why it was not initially well-received.
   60. PreservedFish Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:43 AM (#5881183)
Gimbel was on the scene back when statheads believed that they could more or less instantly turn any team's fortunes around.

I wonder how true that really was, in retrospect. Obviously there was a lot of pigheaded thinking in the game, and it was true that even a nerdy baseball fan understood some legit truths better than the ####### general managers did. But at the same time, the stathead credo of "just fill your team up with AAAA sluggers" was not exactly the most subtle take, and had basically gone out of style by the time Moneyball was published.

The Neyer article on Gimbel notes how much he hated Scott Cooper (overrated all-star gloveman), and how much he loved Troy Neel (Ken Phelps type). But looking back now with WAR, the simple RField adjustment has them as players of basically equivalent ability.
   61. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 20, 2019 at 11:48 AM (#5881184)
BEHOLD!!!
   62. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: September 20, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5881189)
Admiral Ackbar: "It's a trap!"

Vince Coleman: "It's a tarp!"
   63. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 20, 2019 at 12:14 PM (#5881191)
The Neyer article on Gimbel notes how much he hated Scott Cooper (overrated all-star gloveman), and how much he loved Troy Neel (Ken Phelps type). But looking back now with WAR, the simple RField adjustment has them as players of basically equivalent ability.
Yeah, but Cooper's way behind if you take into account CSOAPD (Child Support Owed Above Replacement Deadbeat).
   64. Hot Wheeling American Posted: September 20, 2019 at 12:16 PM (#5881192)
The Rise and Fall of Mike Gimbel. by Rob Neyer, from 2002

Thank you. Some of those quotes are wild.
   65. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 20, 2019 at 12:26 PM (#5881196)
Some of those quotes are wild.


I especially like this one:

"This guy's name was Troy Neel, and the thing that kept us from winning was Troy Neel.
Steam was coming out Duquette's ears practically the whole season, because Troy Neel would have won us the division. But that kind of made me with Dan."


The 1B situation in Montreal was indeed very grim in 1992, but the Expos finished 9 games out and Troy Neel in his entire career produced 3.7 WAR.

   66. Lassus Posted: September 20, 2019 at 12:48 PM (#5881203)
Isn't this all a bit mean?
   67. Hot Wheeling American Posted: September 20, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5881208)
Isn't this all a bit mean?

Probably. But...the author isn't really engaging on his points of argument here. And is 'mean' not synonymous with a previous era of the think factory?
   68. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: September 20, 2019 at 02:43 PM (#5881243)
Isn't this all a bit mean?


Stupid assertions made stupidly are hard to receive any other way.
   69. Lassus Posted: September 20, 2019 at 04:09 PM (#5881283)
Stupid assertions made stupidly are hard to receive any other way.

I suppose some feel that way about a conscious choice.
   70. caiman Posted: September 20, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5881299)
The WAR ratings are wrong. I have spoken about the fundamental mistake in WAR, many times.

RPA is accurate. AROD's three years were down seasons.

The "Dead Ball Era" never happened. The very year referred to by the Wikipedia article as proof of the 'lively ball', Babe Ruth's 1920 season, is demonstrably FALSE, because it took place in the so-called "Dead Ball Era"!!

Instead of snotty answers, can ANYONE HERE prove otherwise? I have analyzed the data from 1900 to the present. The players, before and after 1921, performed the same, in terms of RPA.

Have you watched the movie "COBB"? I loved the scene, as Cobb rode in the passenger seat, with him attacking Babe Ruth for changing the game. Cobb was attacking Ruth, not the BALL, for changing the game! Shouldn't Cobb, if the ball changed the game, have been attacking the change of the ball, not Ruth?

As for John McCain, what in the world does it matter whether he is a Republican and the Democrats wouldn't listen to him? That has absolutely nothing to do when a faux 'crisis' is created. They were united in this matter. All of them were looking for easy publicity for 'doing something' about this faux 'crisis'. Cheap politics.


Again: GET OVER IT!! Are you so afraid that you might have been wrong about your attacks on the players for 'cheating'?
   71. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 20, 2019 at 05:16 PM (#5881308)
Is there any particular reason that you created your own self-linked post just to shout at people about the ball and the decades-old steroid controversy? Is it just because SOME GUYS on the INTERNET are WRONG?!!
   72. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: September 20, 2019 at 05:26 PM (#5881321)
I remember this guy.

<cue Paul Simon>

“I met my ooold lover on the street last night . . .”
   73. DL from MN Posted: September 20, 2019 at 05:31 PM (#5881327)
So, Babe Ruth figured out hitting HR in 1920 and then everyone forgot about it until 2019 when every player suddenly rediscovered it?

The AAA data is pretty much as perfect of an experiment as you will see on this subject. Hold everything else as constant as possible (stadiums, quality of players, weather, etc) and have a really large sample size - 50% increase in HR due to the change in the BALL. I'm not aware of any change in hitting technique that happened over 2019 ONLY in AAA that was purposefully kept away from the other levels of the minor leagues but that MLB ball isn't used in AA or below.

Are players changing their hitting technique? Of course - the current ball is so damned easy to hit over the fence that you would have to be a fool not to try to have a swing plane that drives the ball in the air.
   74. Baldrick Posted: September 20, 2019 at 05:36 PM (#5881333)
Well, this is the least persuasive thing I've seen in a very long time.
   75. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: September 20, 2019 at 05:46 PM (#5881348)
Stupid assertions made stupidly are hard to receive any other way.

I suppose some feel that way about a conscious choice.


Hey, knock yourself out -- go ahead & assure him he's a godlike genius who today has contributed vastly to our understanding & knowledge.
   76. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 20, 2019 at 06:19 PM (#5881384)
The "Dead Ball Era" never happened. The very year referred to by the Wikipedia article as proof of the 'lively ball', Babe Ruth's 1920 season, is demonstrably FALSE, because it took place in the so-called "Dead Ball Era"!!

1919 3.9 R/G
1920 4.4 R/G
1921 4.9 R/G

There's no way that just players changing their approach. No evolutionary phenomenon happens that fast. 200 hitters aren't going to change the habits of a lifetime in two seasons.
   77. QLE Posted: September 20, 2019 at 06:25 PM (#5881385)
Have you watched the movie "COBB"? I loved the scene, as Cobb rode in the passenger seat, with him attacking Babe Ruth for changing the game. Cobb was attacking Ruth, not the BALL, for changing the game! Shouldn't Cobb, if the ball changed the game, have been attacking the change of the ball, not Ruth?


So, one of your largest pieces of evidence is a scene from a fictional film, in which both the characters in it were dead for over thirty years before its release, based on a book by a man whom all the evidence indicates was a habitual liar?

Instead of snotty answers, can ANYONE HERE prove otherwise? I have analyzed the data from 1900 to the present. The players, before and after 1921, performed the same, in terms of RPA.


Counterpoint, in addition to #76's point about runs per game:

Between 1919 and 1922, in the American League, batting average went up by 17 points (.268 to .285), slugging average 39 points (.359 to .398), and isolated power 22 points (.091 to .113). During the same period of time in the National League (which didn't have Babe Ruth to increase the whole league's slugging), batting average went up by 34 points (.258 to .292), slugging average 67 points (.337 to .404), and isolated power 33 points (.069 to .112). Given this shift, I'm curious as to how RPA could remain the same, especially since it can't be OBP (isolated walks went down slightly in the American League but went up slightly in the National League).
   78. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 20, 2019 at 06:41 PM (#5881388)
So, one of your largest pieces of evidence is a scene from a fictional film, in which both the characters in it were dead for over thirty years before its release, based on a book by a man whom all the evidence indicates was a habitual liar?

This should be shouted from the roof tops. Al Stump was a lying son of ##### who assassinated the character of Ty Cobb.

Cobb was no saint, but neither was he a vicious racist. He was a big supporter of Jackie Robinson, and blacks being allowed to play in MLB in general.

Everyone should read "Ty Cobb; A Terrible Beauty".
   79. PreservedFish Posted: September 20, 2019 at 06:44 PM (#5881389)
Well, I'm not going to pile on. I do think this spectacle is a bit sad.
   80. Zach Posted: September 20, 2019 at 08:02 PM (#5881394)
Gimbel was on the scene back when statheads believed that they could more or less instantly turn any team's fortunes around.

To be fair, the guys advocating several years of tanking are 100% right about this.

The question is whether they can turn the fortunes around *twice*. Jury's still out on that one.
   81. The Run Fairy Posted: September 21, 2019 at 01:40 AM (#5881461)
So, one of your largest pieces of evidence is a scene from a fictional film, in which both the characters in it were dead for over thirty years before its release, based on a book by a man whom all the evidence indicates was a habitual liar?


Not to mention that the real Ty Cobb did believe that the ball had changed the game. The HoF website quotes him as saying "With the rabbit ball they're playing with today, [Sam Crawford] would have been one of the greatest home run hitters of all time."
   82. Lassus Posted: September 21, 2019 at 07:52 AM (#5881466)
Cobb was no saint, but neither was he a vicious racist. He was a big supporter of Jackie Robinson, and blacks being allowed to play in MLB in general.
Everyone should read "Ty Cobb; A Terrible Beauty".


I don't really think that the view of Cobb as a vicious racist actually stuck. I mean, it's anecdotal evidence, but all of the stuff I learned of him as I was growing up (and stuck with me) centered on him being a violent dickhead asshole, but not any kind of memorable racist.
   83. PreservedFish Posted: September 21, 2019 at 08:18 AM (#5881467)
Did he really beat up a cripple? That's what I need to know.
   84. JJ1986 Posted: September 21, 2019 at 08:54 AM (#5881469)
I don't understand which anti-steroids crusaders this post is addressed to. If anything, the general sentiment here is anti-anti-steroids.
   85. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: September 21, 2019 at 09:21 AM (#5881473)
Did he really beat up a cripple? That's what I need to know.


Let's be honest here: Who among us hasn't?
   86. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 21, 2019 at 09:48 AM (#5881476)
WTF is RPA?
   87. flournoy Posted: September 21, 2019 at 09:52 AM (#5881477)
Quick Google search indicates it's Robotic Process Automation. Makes sense, the players that are able to automate most of their activities are much more cost efficient.
   88. Darren Posted: September 21, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5881490)
Gimbel was on the scene back when statheads believed that they could more or less instantly turn any team's fortunes around.

I wonder how true that really was, in retrospect. Obviously there was a lot of pigheaded thinking in the game, and it was true that even a nerdy baseball fan understood some legit truths better than the ####### general managers did. But at the same time, the stathead credo of "just fill your team up with AAAA sluggers" was not exactly the most subtle take, and had basically gone out of style by the time Moneyball was published.


This is kind of unfair. Gimbel actually put his stuff into practice with a real team and it worked fairly well. And it wasn't just AAA sluggers.

The Neyer article on Gimbel notes how much he hated Scott Cooper (overrated all-star gloveman), and how much he loved Troy Neel (Ken Phelps type). But looking back now with WAR, the simple RField adjustment has them as players of basically equivalent ability.


Troy Neel: 3.7 WAR in 861 PA
Scott Cooper: 6.2 WAR in 1,801 PA

Neel clearly played better than Cooper. He was also a guy toiling in AA at age 25, Cooper was an All-Star. It's pretty obvious that Gimbel's desire to go after Neel and to deal Cooper were in part tied to how they were valued by other teams.

   89. Darren Posted: September 21, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5881491)
One thing is clear: Gimbel was way ahead of everyone else on finding that the market undervalued guys named Troy.
   90. Omineca Greg Posted: September 21, 2019 at 11:12 AM (#5881492)
Did he really beat up a cripple? That's what I need to know.


My recollection from reading the book is:

a) C'mon! That guy was barely crippled!

b) It was much more normal to go up into the stands to beat the snot out of fans than it is today. So the snot beating has to be evaluated in that light.

c) That cripple was a bad person.

d) Not that it's OK to beat cripples, but if you're gonna beat only one cripple this year, if you make it a low level scumbag guy who's barely crippled? You've really met society half-way, I'd say.
   91. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2019 at 11:17 AM (#5881494)
Did he really beat up a cripple? That's what I need to know.

Not really a cripple, but missing a bunch of fingers. Short answer, yes but its complicated. Cobb didn't know about the injury, and Lucker probably deserved it by the standards of the day. Also, the crowds had been incredibly obnoxious for all four games of the series (this was in the fourth game) including throwing bottles at players and umps. All Cobb's teammates went on strike to protest his suspension.

   92. Omineca Greg Posted: September 21, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5881496)
e) The "cripple" was hanging around obnoxious people.

I liked the book, but that part was one of the low points that reflected poorly on the credibility of the entire project.
   93. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5881499)

I liked the book, but that part was one of the low points that reflected poorly on the credibility of the entire project.


I didn't think so. The author explained why Cobb did what he did, and why, by the standards of the time, lots of people thought it was no big deal.
   94. Omineca Greg Posted: September 21, 2019 at 12:09 PM (#5881515)
Maybe.

I liked the idea of Cobb having an advocate, someone who was representing him in the best possible light. I think he's been the victim of some unfair character assassinations, for whatever reasons, so it's good to get the other side of the stories.

So in the one sense, I'm happy to get the full out defence of the cripple beating; in the end though, Leerhsen didn't convince me on the "move along, move along, there's nothing to see here" on that particular charge.

With so many lawyers here, I hesitate to say anything about it out loud, but I'm thinking there must be at time where you admit a client's wrongdoing to salvage their credibility in other legal matters, I think this might be one of those times. But, hey, maybe your advocate is supposed to give no ground whatsoever ever...ever, ever.
   95. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 21, 2019 at 12:20 PM (#5881521)
I completely agree with you, OG, both with respect to the book and advocacy. Unfortunately way too many lawyers take the latter approach.
   96. Lassus Posted: September 21, 2019 at 12:52 PM (#5881527)
I'm not sure I see Cobb as needing an advocate that badly as a respected, nationally (what that meant for the time) famous professional committing assault. Subjective, I guess.
   97. Omineca Greg Posted: September 21, 2019 at 12:58 PM (#5881529)
At the time, yes, but now?

He's not respected, he's a punchline. If he earned that reputation, then so be it. If he hasn't, then there's something grossly unfair about a person's legacy being reduced to what lies were successfully floated about him in the past.
   98. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 21, 2019 at 01:12 PM (#5881532)
He's not respected, he's a punchline. If he earned that reputation, then so be it. If he hasn't, then there's something grossly unfair about a person's legacy being reduced to what lies were successfully floated about him in the past.

Correct. He's viewed as a cartoon of a racist, violent psychopath. That's pretty clearly not true.

Was he a brawler with a very short fuse, yes. But that was not out of the norm for ballplayers of his era. Cobb was complicated, and flawed, but he deserves better than the Stump-ian cartoon image.
   99. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 21, 2019 at 01:52 PM (#5881548)
He's viewed as a cartoon of a racist, violent psychopath. That's pretty clearly not true.


As already mentioned, I think I would strike racist. I just don't think that whether he was a racist or not is all that big a part of the commonly accepted caricature of Cobb. And even the Stumpian version is a guy who supported Micky Cochrane for decades so, in that sense at least, complicated is part of the caricature too.

And "buddy of George W. Bush" probably isn't among the first thirty or so things I think of when someone mentions John McCain, since I was alive in 2000 when Karl Rove, an actual buddy of W's, assassinated McCain's character to win the South Carolina primary and the Republican nomination.
   100. caiman Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:27 AM (#5882055)
For those of you who have posted the flat numbers, in order to 'prove' that it is the ball that was made lively, are making a fundamental mistake.

Those numbers are RESULTS, not CAUSES.

The umbrellas are RESULTS of rain, not the cause of rain.

In order to figure out the CAUSE(S) of something, one must look at the data, from the inside. Looking at the outside (the results) tells us nothing.

The game changes constantly. The parks change. The bats and gloves change. Training methods change. "Launch angle" cannot be ignored.

The fact that Babe Ruth had his best season hitting in 1920 and one of his best season's hitting in 1919, both prior to the "Lively Ball era", should indicate, even to the blind, that something isn't quite right with the theory of the 'lively ball'.

RPA adjusts for park, year and league on a per plate appearance basis. There was no 'advantage' or 'disadvantage' for certain types of player, over the 1921 divide, as far as I could tell.

The fact that more homers occurred proves NOTHING in regards to the ball. Ditto the faux "steroid era" or the newest 'lively ball era' of today.

Once again, WAR is a basically flawed formula, in all its various methods, due to (1) the inclusion of the positional adjustment in the formulas and (2) its comparison to replacement players, rather than the median qualified starting player at that position.
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