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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

MLB drops the ball in ruling Mexico out of the World Baseball Classic

This is a great lesson in why rules need to have clearly defined terms. Are “defensive innings” the number of innings pitched or does any inning in which a team plays defense constitute a defensive inning. The phrase “including partial innings” does not solve the ambiguity.

Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 14, 2017 at 06:53 AM | 77 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: italy, mexico, venezuela, world baseball classic

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   1. RMc's Yelling Mob of Hackmen Posted: March 14, 2017 at 08:22 AM (#5417000)
Yeah, so what? Tebow got a hit! And made a catch in the outfield!
   2. Rusty Priske Posted: March 14, 2017 at 09:40 AM (#5417028)
Yep. Mexico got screwed.
   3. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 14, 2017 at 09:45 AM (#5417030)
Frankly, I don't get the controversy. Defensive innings has to mean innings pitched. Partial innings has to mean outs less than three. Any other definitions would be nonsensical.
   4. Bug Selig Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:03 AM (#5417039)
FTFA "The relevant rule: the team that gives up the most runs per inning in head-to-head play is eliminated. Mexico had given up 1.12 runs per inning, Venezuela 1.11, Italy 1.05."

Was anybody throwing overhand?
   5. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:04 AM (#5417040)
[3] That's how I would interpret it, but the people at MLB Network didn't think so. The game ended pretty late. I wonder how many Mexican fans went to bed thinking their team was going to a play in game only to wake up and find out that the MLB Network crew had the facts wrong.
   6. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:26 AM (#5417049)
The controversy seems to be that Mexico was told "if you win by 2 you advance," they won by 2, yet they don't advance.
   7. JJ1986 Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:30 AM (#5417051)
The controversy seems to be that Mexico was told "if you win by 2 you advance,"

Differential isn't the first tiebreaker so that was obviously wrong.
   8. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:40 AM (#5417056)
I don't think Mexico got screwed, but there was no good outcome to this scenario. Some team was going home feeling screwed.
   9. Russ Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:44 AM (#5417060)
I don't think Mexico got screwed, but there was no good outcome to this scenario. Some team was going home feeling screwed.


If they didn't want to get screwed, they should have gotten an out. The whole point of such a tiebreaker is to reward teams for doing something good. They didn't do the good thing (get outs), that is why they went home.
   10. Renegade (((JE))) Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:48 AM (#5417062)
I thought tiebreakers were supposed to be settled with penalty kicks.
   11. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:57 AM (#5417073)

If they didn't want to get screwed, they should have gotten an out. The whole point of such a tiebreaker is to reward teams for doing something good. They didn't do the good thing (get outs), that is why they went home.


The rule isn't runs per number of outs, it's runs per inning. If you are going to penalize them for an inning in which they didn't get any outs, it's only fair to allow them to play on to see if they can get more outs without giving up any more runs.
   12. Russ Posted: March 14, 2017 at 11:02 AM (#5417082)
If you are going to penalize them for an inning in which they didn't get any outs, it's only fair to allow them to play on to see if they can get more outs without giving up any more runs.


That's insane. The baseball game clock is determined by two things: outs and a team having no chance to win within either 9 innings or at the end of an extra inning. The clock can end on either of those two things and "no chance to win" clock ran out before the out clock.

I feel like I'm in a bizarro world where this clearly stated rule is applied correctly (well, eventually) and people are complaining about it. It's not like Mexico did a good thing and are being punished for it. They blew a game by giving up five runs without getting an out. Why should they be rewarded for that?
   13. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 14, 2017 at 11:18 AM (#5417105)

That's insane. The baseball game clock is determined by two things: outs and a team having no chance to win within either 9 innings or at the end of an extra inning. The clock can end on either of those two things and "no chance to win" clock ran out before the out clock.


"Mexico, we're very sorry that you just gave up five runs and lost the game. But don't worry, you can still advance if you give up fewer runs per inning than your opponents."

"That's great, although five runs in one inning isn't going to help our cause."

"Actually, it's five runs in zero innings. You didn't make an out."

"Oh, really? Then I'll send the players out there and we'll get an out."

"No, you can't do that, you lost, the game's over. The only way the inning would count is if the game were still going."

"But if the game were still going, that would mean we hadn't given up five runs, and we were still ahead or tied. In that case, we wouldn't need the tiebreaker."

"That's correct, yes."

"So you're saying the only way we can win the tiebreaker is if we don't need the tiebreaker."

"In effect, yes."

"That's some catch, that catch veintidos."
   14. geonose Posted: March 14, 2017 at 11:20 AM (#5417107)
Why did MLB blow it? Despite what the article says, MLB does not run the World Baseball Classic. It's run by the World Baseball Softball Confederation. Certainly MLB has a huge presence (and it was MLB's idea in the first place), MLBAM runs the (English-speaking) website, and MLB Network shows the games in the US, but to blame this on MLB is just wrong.

   15. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 14, 2017 at 11:29 AM (#5417115)
13: Not seeing the Catch 22. They weren't in a position to win the tiebreaker doesn't mean that nobody can win the tiebreaker; it just means that they couldn't.

The rule may be stupid -- why not just use run differential, which is simpler and well-established as a tie-breaker? -- but it was applied correctly.
   16. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 14, 2017 at 11:33 AM (#5417117)
I thought tiebreakers were supposed to be settled with penalty kicks.


I would be 100% fine with the three teams settling this via a round-robin HR hitting contest.
   17. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 14, 2017 at 11:50 AM (#5417130)
Just look at the freaking box score. Mexico was correctly charged with five runs and correctly credited with zero innings. Arguing otherwise is just being obtuse.

That doesn't mean that tiebreakers in general, and this one in particular, aren't dumb.
   18. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: March 14, 2017 at 11:51 AM (#5417131)
The controversy seems to be that Mexico was told "if you win by 2 you advance,"

Differential isn't the first tiebreaker so that was obviously wrong.

Right? If they'd won their final game 36-31, they weren't gonna advance.
   19. Buck Coats Posted: March 14, 2017 at 12:00 PM (#5417136)
I mean it's not like this is some strange made-up stat - it's ERA! (Well, RA.) If they had just said "tie-breaker is ERA" would people have been shocked that Mexico didn't get credit for that inning?
   20. cmd600 Posted: March 14, 2017 at 12:43 PM (#5417159)
If they had just said "tie-breaker is ERA"


No one would be shocked, people are upset because they specifically said something else.
   21. Greg Pope Posted: March 14, 2017 at 01:10 PM (#5417180)
I mean it's not like this is some strange made-up stat - it's ERA! (Well, RA.) If they had just said "tie-breaker is ERA" would people have been shocked that Mexico didn't get credit for that inning?

Did anyone do the calculation to see if it's actually the standard RA? Or is it some weird new number that only uses whole innings as the denominator? If it's the former, then there's no complaint. If it's the latter, then I would say that Mexico has a legitimate beef.

   22. Rusty Priske Posted: March 14, 2017 at 01:30 PM (#5417199)
That's just it. They DIDN'T say it was measured by Innings Pitched. They said it was by Defensive Innings, including partial innings. That was a partial defensive inning.

If the rule was meant to be by Innings Pitched, they should have said that.
   23. Russ Posted: March 14, 2017 at 01:36 PM (#5417206)
That's just it. They DIDN'T say it was measured by Innings Pitched. They said it was by Defensive Innings, including partial innings. That was a partial defensive inning.


That line of argument makes absolutely zero sense. They still had three thirds of the way to go to complete the inning. Innings are never measured by batters, only by outs.

The most frustrating part of all this is that the fact that OUTS define innings and innings are the time constraint in a game IS THE MOST AWESOME PART ABOUT BASEBALL BECAUSE LITERALLY ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN UNTIL THE LAST OUT.

And even MORE frustrating is that the fact that Mexico got five-runned in the 9th and lost is a perfect example of how baseball has a clock that has nothing to do with time.

See also: my frustration with people trying to make changes to the within game play in order to make it faster. Stop trying to put a clock on something that is timeless by design.
   24. JAHV Posted: March 14, 2017 at 02:11 PM (#5417226)
Stop trying to put a clock on something that is timeless by design.


"That's what I'm saying!"

- Jonathan Papelbon, as he watches an episode of Duck Dynasty in between pitches
   25. Greg Pope Posted: March 14, 2017 at 02:14 PM (#5417229)
That's just it. They DIDN'T say it was measured by Innings Pitched. They said it was by Defensive Innings, including partial innings. That was a partial defensive inning.

If the rule was meant to be by Innings Pitched, they should have said that.


Maybe they should have, but which is more likely? They either meant a standard stat that everyone knows and has been kept for many years. Or they made up some completely new stat and then proceeded to poorly define it.
   26. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 14, 2017 at 02:33 PM (#5417241)
They said it was by Defensive Innings, including partial innings. That was a partial defensive inning.


And where did they say that partial innings were to be counted as whole innings? The partial inning was counted, correctly, as 0% of an inning.
   27. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 14, 2017 at 02:57 PM (#5417261)
Stop trying to put a clock on something that is timeless by design.


Baseball isn't timeless. Baseball has a clock. The clock is simply driven by a variable input; outs recorded; rather than metronomic temporal increments.
   28. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 14, 2017 at 03:35 PM (#5417279)
Right. In baseball, you don't run out of time, you run out of outs.
   29. Hysterical & Useless Posted: March 14, 2017 at 04:00 PM (#5417294)
In Soviet Russia, outs run out of you!
   30. A triple short of the cycle Posted: March 14, 2017 at 04:09 PM (#5417301)
So is the question, how many RPI (runs per "inning") did Mexico allow in that particular inning?
And the possible answers are: infinite, or 5? Because that particular inning counts as either zero or 1 "innings" in the denominator?
I can see both sides but I would go with counting it as 1 inning for this purpose, even though zero outs were recorded.
   31. WSPanic Posted: March 14, 2017 at 04:15 PM (#5417308)
The rule may be stupid -- why not just use run differential, which is simpler and well-established as a tie-breaker? -- but it was applied correctly.


Well, Mexico ruined that rule too. They got all pissy and started throwing at Canadian hitters after they bunted up 6 runs in the 9th to pad their run differential in anticipation of a tie breaker.

Seems the only consistent thread through all of this is Mexico's inability to understand the rules of the WBC.

   32. JustDan Posted: March 14, 2017 at 04:24 PM (#5417315)
Right? If they'd won their final game 36-31, they weren't gonna advance.

Yes they would, if I'm doing my math right:
Venezuela 46 runs, 19 innings = 2.42
Mexico 41 runs, 17 innings = 2.41
   33. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 14, 2017 at 04:32 PM (#5417318)
I can see both sides but I would go with counting it as 1 inning for this purpose, even though zero outs were recorded.


They took the field defensively. That's an inning played, even if they recorded no outs.
   34. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 14, 2017 at 04:34 PM (#5417320)
That's just it. They DIDN'T say it was measured by Innings Pitched. They said it was by Defensive Innings, including partial innings. That was a partial defensive inning.
The people making this argument are being nonsensical. You're trying to create a distinction that doesn't exist in baseball. Partial innings are measured by outs. Otherwise, how do you think they should have counted it?
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 14, 2017 at 05:13 PM (#5417348)

They took the field defensively. That's an inning played, even if they recorded no outs.


Not in baseball. It's 0 innings until you record an out. Hence the pitcher is credited with zero "innings pitched".
   36. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 14, 2017 at 06:14 PM (#5417386)
They took the field defensively. That's an inning played, even if they recorded no outs.


I'm playing LF in the bottom of the 9th inning with my team up 4-2. The closer fails to record an out before he coughs up a three run homer and the opposition wins the game 5-4.

When I log onto Baseball Reference tomorrow morning, how many defensive innings will Sean credit me with? 0 or 1?
   37. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 14, 2017 at 06:20 PM (#5417387)
I'm playing LF in the bottom of the 9th inning with my team up 4-2. The closer fails to record an out before he coughs up a three run homer and the opposition wins the game 5-4.

When I log onto Baseball Reference tomorrow morning, how many defensive innings will Sean credit me with? 0 or 1?


Probably zero, and that is *wrong.* If one of those base runners before the 3-run bomb got on base by hitting a ball to LF that maybe should have been caught, but you're slow afoot and take bad routes to the ball, then saying you didn't play defense that inning is fundamentally false. You were part of the defense that failed to record and out.
   38. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 14, 2017 at 06:31 PM (#5417391)
saying you didn't play defense that inning is fundamentally false


Saying you played zero innings isn't "saying you didn't play" though. If a team brings in a new third baseman to start the 10th inning, which ends on a walk-off with no outs having been recorded, that third baseman is credited with a game played and, if he makes an error or fails on a "chance" as measured by UZR or its ilk, those would be properly recorded and charged to the fielder.
   39. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 14, 2017 at 06:35 PM (#5417392)
Probably zero, and that is *wrong.* If one of those base runners before the 3-run bomb got on base by hitting a ball to LF that maybe should have been caught, but you're slow afoot and take bad routes to the ball, then saying you didn't play defense that inning is fundamentally false. You were part of the defense that failed to record and out.


That hypothetical play--LFer fails to field a ball that should have been caught--still gets recorded in the gamelog and it would lower the LFer's rating on an advanced defensive metric like UZR or whatever. But in terms of how many defensive innings the LFer played? 0.

EDIT: Coke to Kiko. And good point on the fact that the defensive replacement in that instance would get credit for a Game Played but not for a Defensive Inning.
   40. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 14, 2017 at 06:52 PM (#5417398)
Let's combine our three examples.

So I'm the slow-footed LFer who lets a runner reach because I fail to get to a playable ball. Kiko replaces me mid-inning and records an out before the closer coughs up the lead and the game ends 5-4, albeit this time an out was recorded.

Now what is more accurate:
- Kiko and me both get credit with 1 defensive inning;
- Kiko gets credited with 1/3rd of a defensive inning
   41. RMc's Yelling Mob of Hackmen Posted: March 14, 2017 at 08:26 PM (#5417437)
Next time, use home-run hitting contests for tie-breakers. (Seriously.)
   42. Walt Davis Posted: March 15, 2017 at 01:02 AM (#5417535)
Just curious how people would react to a different tie-breaking scenario. Let's say that MLB moved to using run differential as a WC tie-breaker. Last day of the season, two teams tied, both sitting on +15. If you want things super equal, say both teams have played exactly the same number of innings so far, same number of RS and RA. Completely identical teams after 161 games.

Team 1 is playing at home. Game is 0-0 after 8. They get the first 2 outs in the 9th, then a walk and HR, then the third out. They don't score, lose 2-0.

Team 2 is on the road. Also 0-0 after 8, they don't score in the top of the 9th, they give up a lead-off HR in the bottom, lose 1-0. They go to the WC game.

Would folks consider that "fair"?

Is it still fair if team 1 takes it to extra innings before losing 2-0?

(In case anybody's missed it, the point being that Team 2 might have lost 3-0 if forced to play all of the bottom of the 9th.)

Not that there's really a solution to that I can see (esp once extra innings are considered) ... and of course the two teams might only be tied in run differential after 161 because, sometime earlier this year, Team 1 lost a game in the same way Team 2 did here.
   43. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 15, 2017 at 02:22 AM (#5417542)
I actually think they should do away with tiebreakers based on in game stats. Whether its run differential or runs allowed or whatever, there will always be incentives in some cases to play a strategy that reduces the chance of winning in order to increase the chance of advancing, like intentionally allowing a runner to score to force extra innings and a chance for a multi-run victory or whatever. Given only enough time for one tiebreaker game, they should just have a three team home run derby the next morning to determine who goes to the play in game and who either automatically advances (2-1 tie) or gets eliminated (1-2 tie). A bit of a farce? Maybe, but less of one than a team having an incentive to allow another team to score to force extra innings.
   44. Sleepless in Munich Posted: March 15, 2017 at 04:38 AM (#5417545)
Completely identical teams after 161 games.

Except that Team 1 has played 80 home games and 81 away games, and Team 2 has played 81 home games and 80 away games. That's an important point, because that's what makes the scenario fair IMO. Fair rules always need to be known before the start of the competition and fairness of rules needs to be determined before the start of the competition. And at that point both teams are equally effected by the "cap" on runs for the home team in the ninth inning.

I actually think they should do away with tiebreakers based on in game stats. Whether its run differential or runs allowed or whatever, there will always be incentives in some cases to play a strategy that reduces the chance of winning in order to increase the chance of advancing, like intentionally allowing a runner to score to force extra innings and a chance for a multi-run victory or whatever.

I agree with the main point. But I want to point out that there are some stats that don't mess with the in-play incentives, e. g. run differential based on the first eight innings (that are always played by both teams).
   45. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 15, 2017 at 04:56 AM (#5417546)
[44] Nice catch. I hadn't thought of that. Of course the mercy rules do add a bit of symmetry there (you can run up the score in the 7th/8th as a road team but not as the home team) though combining it with a cap of +- 10 runs counting toward differential per game would even solve the asymmetry problem. I still like the home run derby idea, though.

Edit: On second thought, such a tie breaker could incentive a team to use their closer in the 8th and setup man in the 9th, though that's a much smaller problem than the current rules.
   46. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 15, 2017 at 10:08 AM (#5417592)
That hypothetical play--LFer fails to field a ball that should have been caught--still gets recorded in the gamelog and it would lower the LFer's rating on an advanced defensive metric like UZR or whatever. But in terms of how many defensive innings the LFer played? 0.


Which. Is. Stupid. You have now created a measurement framework where things happen in "0" time units.
   47. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 15, 2017 at 10:10 AM (#5417594)
Next time, use home-run hitting contests for tie-breakers. (Seriously.)


Yup. Just go to penalty kicks and move on. You can't waste the travel time or the on-loan arms to stretch the tourney, so bite the bullet and have them settle with flare.
   48. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 15, 2017 at 10:15 AM (#5417600)
Which. Is. Stupid. You have now created a measurement framework where things happen in "0" time units.
And by "created" you mean "used the exact same system we have used for pitchers since Biblical times."
   49. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 15, 2017 at 01:47 PM (#5417770)
And the idiot didn't respond the scenario posted in #40. Typical.
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: March 15, 2017 at 03:21 PM (#5417838)
Just curious how people would react to a different tie-breaking scenario.


Tiebreakers should never be used to determine anything meaningful in baseball. (And I happen to agree with MLB that HFA alone isn't meaningful enough to employ them in the postseason).

The problem here is that the nature of the WBC makes the use of some kind of tiebreaking mechanism necessary, and tiebreakers are almost uniformly awful.
   51. Bote Man Posted: March 15, 2017 at 03:34 PM (#5417852)
So...this time it counts???
   52. SoSH U at work Posted: March 15, 2017 at 03:42 PM (#5417864)
So...this time it counts???


Actually, yes. Getting worked up over the all-star game being used to determine HFA in the World Series, as many people here have, is rather ridiculous when you consider that HFA is considered so insignificant that records in the last half of intraleague games is another method employed to decide that perk in the playoffs.

   53. Buck Coats Posted: March 15, 2017 at 03:43 PM (#5417865)
Well, you could do the WBC without tie-breakers. Just get rid of the round-robin group stage. Make everything a March Madness-style bracket tournament (and maybe make each matchup a best-of-3 series...)
   54. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 15, 2017 at 04:21 PM (#5417908)
And by "created" you mean "used the exact same system we have used for pitchers since Biblical times."


You realize that like, 93% of Biblical #### is stupid too, right?
   55. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 15, 2017 at 06:38 PM (#5418023)
You realize that like, 93% of Biblical #### is stupid too, right?


Completely non-responsive to David's point, which clearly used "Biblical" as hyperbole--which is obvious to anyone with an IQ above room temperature.

Sadly, we have to tolerate nonsense from this mental midget and overall piece of ####.


   56. Khrushin it bro Posted: March 15, 2017 at 07:36 PM (#5418058)
So did the game end after 8 innings or 9?

EDIT: I think they should have just gone with an established stat like ERA which would have clarified things. I think that's been stated already.
   57. Buck Coats Posted: March 16, 2017 at 08:06 AM (#5418167)
But they did! That's the exact stat they're using! (Well, RA instead of ERA. And "per inning" rather than "per 9 innings".)
   58. manchestermets Posted: March 16, 2017 at 09:00 AM (#5418180)
Maybe they should have, but which is more likely? They either meant a standard stat that everyone knows and has been kept for many years. Or they made up some completely new stat and then proceeded to poorly define it.


Given that this is a sports governing body, I don't think that this is especially unlikely.
   59. Rennie's Tenet Posted: March 16, 2017 at 09:38 AM (#5418190)
But they did! That's the exact stat they're using!


Right. What piqued my interest is that they introduced ambiguity by changing "fraction of an inning" in the ERA rule to "partial innings." Is the word "fraction" the subject of some sort of cultural dispute?
   60. Karl from NY Posted: March 16, 2017 at 03:46 PM (#5418491)
The rule may be stupid -- why not just use run differential, which is simpler and well-established as a tie-breaker?


The mercy rule is one reason. If you're overmatched and losing by 9, you are incented to give up that 10th run as well to invoke the mercy rule to end it rather than risk giving up more runs in a future inning.

Making the tiebreaker runs/inning or runs/outs avoids that problem.
   61. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 16, 2017 at 03:48 PM (#5418494)
Sadly, we have to tolerate nonsense from this mental midget and overall piece of ####.


I should take your mom off of my Xmas list then?
   62. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 16, 2017 at 03:51 PM (#5418497)
Completely non-responsive to David's point, which clearly used "Biblical" as hyperbole--which is obvious to anyone with an IQ above room temperature.


And for the record, David's argument above was "this is the way it's always been, so it's the correct way." Give or take a turn of phrase. He's arguing to authority; namely the authority of tradition. That is, of course, categorically fallacious with regard to the question of whether or not the traditional method of doing this is stupid and dumb.

Try to keep up, Honeybun.
   63. SBB, Live from the Alt-Center Posted: March 16, 2017 at 05:44 PM (#5418559)
What a shock it is that a jerry-rigged event like this had something like this happen. I for one am flabbergasted.
   64. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 16, 2017 at 06:12 PM (#5418573)
No, very slow Sam, I was not using an argument from authority. I was refuting your claim that innings where one fails to record an out being counted as "0" is something that was created for this tournament.
   65. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 16, 2017 at 08:27 PM (#5418621)
And for the record, David's argument above was "this is the way it's always been, so it's the correct way." Give or take a turn of phrase. He's arguing to authority; namely the authority of tradition. That is, of course, categorically fallacious with regard to the question of whether or not the traditional method of doing this is stupid and dumb.


As DMN said, that wasn't his argument at all.

I done wasting time with BBTF's village idiot.
   66. Rickey! No. You move. Posted: March 16, 2017 at 09:34 PM (#5418655)
Talking to yourself is frowned upon yes.
   67. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: March 16, 2017 at 10:26 PM (#5418675)
[60] So it's better to lose by ten runs in the 7th inning than risk losing by 10 runs in the 8th inning using run differential? Not sure I follow the logic.
   68. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 16, 2017 at 10:31 PM (#5418680)
[60] So it's better to lose by ten runs in the 7th inning than risk losing by 10 runs in the 8th inning using run differential? Not sure I follow the logic.


Well, if you are the home team, you could lose by more than 10 runs.
   69. Karl from NY Posted: March 17, 2017 at 10:54 AM (#5418814)
There's also the more general consideration (and more likely the original thought process) that a tiebreaker of scoring differential encourages running up the score. College football removed points differential from their ranking factors and the NFL pushed it as far down their tiebreaker list as they could. Soccer still uses it, but overkill isn't really an issue in that sport, both teams are always trying to score. But in baseball, score differential would lead to the usual arguments about stealing or bunting or whatever with a big lead. MLB would rather just avoid that. Putting the tiebreaker entirely on the defensive side keeps the sportsmanship where it should be.
   70. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 17, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5418828)
Is running up the score necessarily a bad thing?

I don't really care about the WBC itself, but in the regular season I'm interested in understanding the relative value of certain players compared to others. Pretty much all valuation systems--WAR, RE24, etc--basically assume that players are exerting maximum effort in every at bat (note: with a framework like WPA, events that occur when the team already has a large lead will of course be less valuable, but it still assumes that the player is exerting maximum effort).

If I want to compare Player A and Player B, and Player A is on a historically great team that blows out their opponents on a fairly regular basis, I want Player A to run up the score at every opportunity. Similarly, since I'm also interested in assessing the relative quality of the opposing pitchers, I never want Player A to hold back even if his team is leading by 10+ runs.

Baseball is a competition to assess who is better, both at a team-level and an individual player-level. Our evaluation systems only work if maximum effort is exerted in every possible instance. There is nothing inherently unsportsmanlike to run up the score at the professional level (I'll concede that a lower tier amateur sports, particularly youth sports, there may be compelling reasons to discourage or at least minimize it).
   71. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 17, 2017 at 11:44 AM (#5418845)
I don't really care about the WBC itself, but in the regular season I'm interested in understanding the relative value of certain players compared to others.


The purpose of the sport isn't really to help you understand the relative value of certain players compared to others.

However, "running up the score," at least in baseball, has always been a non-issue. What MLB teams don't like is when offensive teams execute run-scoring strategies (stealing, bunting, hitting and running). No one objects if Player A puts a good swing on a pitch from Player B with his team up 11. They object when he tries to get the extra base. But as we all know, the various strategies executed by offenses don't really change scoring for the positive anyway.


Baseball is a competition to assess who is better, both at a team-level and an individual player-level. Our evaluation systems only work if maximum effort is exerted in every possible instance.


Not really. Players have been exerting less than maximum effort in various instances (late innings of a blowout, final games in a seventh-place season) since the start of the sport. Our evaluation systems have managed just fine.
   72. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 17, 2017 at 02:15 PM (#5418965)
The purpose of the sport isn't really to help you understand the relative value of certain players compared to others.


The purpose of the sport is to generate profits for the owners, which is advanced by fans being interested in the outcomes. My interest stems in large part from statistical analyses in order to compare the performances of the players. Judging by the popularity of sites such as Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, and others (as well as the popularity of BBTF's own Hall of Merit), it's pretty clear that I am not alone in that regard.


However, "running up the score," at least in baseball, has always been a non-issue. What MLB teams don't like is when offensive teams execute run-scoring strategies (stealing, bunting, hitting and running). No one objects if Player A puts a good swing on a pitch from Player B with his team up 11. They object when he tries to get the extra base. But as we all know, the various strategies executed by offenses don't really change scoring for the positive anyway.


Changing strategy because of a score is something very different from lowering the effort. For example, a stolen base attempt may increase the probability of scoring a single run in an inning by a greater amount than it increases the expected runs in the inning. In certain situations (e.g., a close, late game), it may be that you're more interested in maximizing the probability of scoring that single run rather than maximizing expected runs. Generally speaking, the calculus changes on whether to attempt a steal or whatever long before a run differential becomes a "blowout" (i.e., if a stolen base attempt doesn't make sense in a 10 run game, then it's not going to make sense in a 5 run game). That is, game strategy really doesn't change between "healthy lead" and "blowout" (except when it involves a decision on whether to remove a player to allow rest to improve his contributions to future games--see below).


Not really. Players have been exerting less than maximum effort in various instances (late innings of a blowout, final games in a seventh-place season) since the start of the sport. Our evaluation systems have managed just fine.


It depends on whether they are exerting less effort in order to increase their performance level for subsequent games or whether it's to spare the feelings or whatever of the other team. For example, if Buster Posey exits the game in 6th inning because the Giants are up 10-2, then that allows him to rest and perform at a higher level in future games. In other words, whatever he loses in that particular game should be offset by improved performance in the following games. That is not a problem in my view.

A player "dogging" it at the end of the season when his team is out of contention is a potential problem that could indeed negatively bias results in an evaluation metrics like WAR. In general, I don't think that this happens all that often because players are very aware of how their stats impact future compensation and professional athletes tend to be intensively competitive that it's near impossible for them not to exert maximum effort. To the extent that player effort is lessened in the final weeks of a losing season, it's far more common for some star players to play less than they would if their team was in contention, but I don't know that very many of them actually play but exert less effort.

I don't see the value-added of a social norm against "running up the score" in professional sports. If a team rests its star players, adjust in-game strategy, etc., generally it's because it's in their own self-interest to do so. But I don't understand why it's in any way undesirable for a team to score as many runs as they possible can. And certainly there's no justification for a "mercy rule."
   73. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 17, 2017 at 02:44 PM (#5418976)
The purpose of the sport is to generate profits for the owners, which is advanced by fans being interested in the outcomes. My interest stems in large part from statistical analyses in order to compare the performances of the players. Judging by the popularity of sites such as Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, and others (as well as the popularity of BBTF's own Hall of Merit), it's pretty clear that I am not alone in that regard.


To the extent that's even a blip on MLB's radar, it's highly indirect.

Changing strategy because of a score is something very different from lowering the effort.


Yes, you're the one who mistakenly made it about effort. Failing to engage in one-run strategies is not about effort. Pitchers are expected to continue to compete. Batters are not expected to give away outs. That's the foundation of the sport, and nothing about that changes when teams don't engage in one-run strategies in a blowout. "Running up the score" is a non-issue in baseball. Failing to bunt, steal bases or engage in hit-and-runs does nothing to alter our statistical understanding of the game (and, hell, even if it did, the fact that all teams operate within the same general parameters would render it meaningless anyway).

A player "dogging" it at the end of the season when his team is out of contention is a potential problem that could indeed negatively bias results in an evaluation metrics like WAR. In general, I don't think that this happens all that often because players are very aware of how their stats impact future compensation and professional athletes tend to be intensively competitive that it's near impossible for them not to exert maximum effort.


This is so inconsistent. You don't think it's possible that they exert less than max effort because of their competitive nature, even in the back end of blowouts or the tail end of lost seasons, but you do think it might happen out of pity.

I think the idea that players are super-human specimens incapable of the occasional loss of focus/effort is highly unlikely.
   74. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 17, 2017 at 03:12 PM (#5419000)

I don't see the value-added of a social norm against "running up the score" in professional sports. If a team rests its star players, adjust in-game strategy, etc., generally it's because it's in their own self-interest to do so. But I don't understand why it's in any way undesirable for a team to score as many runs as they possible can.


The point of playing the game is to win. As long as both sides have a chance to win, that works. What could be a problem is when a game gets to the point where only one team has a reasonable chance to win, because that changes the calculus. A player or players could as 'what then are we playing for?'.

If you're getting your butt kicked, then you're only playing for pride. And pride might demand satisfaction for the humiliation of a loss. And if a comeback is impossible, then one form of satisfaction is giving opposing players a literal beatdown on the field.

So the team with a lead might conclude it is better to ease up and not pile on the runs when the only possible effect is a greater chance of the opposing team losing it and trying to injure one of your players.
   75. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 17, 2017 at 03:18 PM (#5419002)
To the extent that's even a blip on MLB's radar, it's highly indirect.


Not really. Based on the investments that they've made in integrating Statcast data into improving the fan experience (as opposed to collecting the data to help teams make better informed decisions), it would seem that MLBAM believes that there is a significant market for better baseball statistics.

Yes, you're the one who mistakenly made it about effort. Failing to engage in one-run strategies is not about effort. Pitchers are expected to continue to compete. Batters are not expected to give away outs. That's the foundation of the sport, and nothing about that changes when teams don't engage in one-run strategies in a blowout. "Running up the score" is a non-issue in baseball. Failing to bunt, steal bases or engage in hit-and-runs does nothing to alter our statistical understanding of the game (and, hell, even if it did, the fact that all teams operate within the same general parameters would render it meaningless anyway)...

This is so inconsistent. You don't think it's possible that they exert less than max effort because of their competitive nature, even in the back end of blowouts or the tail end of lost seasons, but you do think it might happen out of pity.


We're talking past each other. I'm arguing against either an explicit rule that ends a game early (aka, "mercy rule") or a social norm that discourages teams from "running up the score."

If a team decides to change strategy due to the game state, remove a player based on the score in order to preserve his energy, health, or whatever for future games, etc... those are legitimate reasons in my view.

If you put in a scrub who rarely plays into the middle of a blowout in a regular season, then he's going bust his ass to try to make a good impression to score more playing time regardless of whether it's "running up the score." And that's the way it should be.

But in the WBC, you literally have a mercy rule and a poorly designed tie-breaker system organized around the notion that "running up the score" is somehow undesirable. That's what I'm objecting to.

I think the idea that players are super-human specimens incapable of the occasional loss of focus/effort is highly unlikely.


Nowhere did I say or in any way imply that was the case (i.e., you're arguing a strawman).
   76. Karl from NY Posted: March 17, 2017 at 05:18 PM (#5419091)
But in the WBC, you literally have a mercy rule and a poorly designed tie-breaker system organized around the notion that "running up the score" is somehow undesirable.

It is undesirable. Because perception matters. Who benefits from the WBC resulting in 19-1 boxscores making the games look like farces against overmatched countries? Why not make the event look a little more respectable by curtailing the extremes of talent discrepancy between countries?
   77. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 17, 2017 at 05:47 PM (#5419106)
Not really. Based on the investments that they've made in integrating Statcast data into improving the fan experience (as opposed to collecting the data to help teams make better informed decisions), it would seem that MLBAM believes that there is a significant market for better baseball statistics.


Still far removed from your original comment, but really not worth arguing about.


We're talking past each other. I'm arguing against either an explicit rule that ends a game early (aka, "mercy rule") or a social norm that discourages teams from "running up the score."


That's not the argument you were making in 71, which was about the regular season and the integrity of stats and stuff.

Nowhere did I say or in any way imply that was the case (i.e., you're arguing a strawman).


No, I was doing no such thing. You said it was near-impossible for them to not exert maximum effort. The ability to perform at one's max effort at all times would set them aside from the rest of the species.

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