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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Loser Scores 2017

The fine print:

Bill James came up with Loser Scores after the 2010 season, in an effort to measure how the Pirates’ string of losing seasons compared to other lengthy stretches of bad baseball. I’ve updated the totals every year since then.

You compute Loser Scores in this fashion:

1. A team that has a losing season adds to its Loser Score the total of games under .500, plus the number of consecutive seasons that the team has been under .500.
2. A team that has a .500 or better season takes its previous Loser Score and multiplies it by (1-number of consecutive non-losing seasons/10) - so .9 for the first .500+ season, .8 for the second, and so on - rounds that to the nearest whole number, and then subtracts the number of games over .500.
3. A Loser Score cannot go below zero.
4. Winning the World Series is an automatic reset to zero.

The 2017 results:

Team               W   L Games Under  Streak  Loser Score
Pittsburgh        75  87          12       2          280
Colorado          87  75         -12       1          200
San Diego         71  91          20       7          186
Cincinnati        68  94          26       4          162
Miami             77  85           8       8          160
Seattle           78  84           6       1          146
Milwaukee         86  76         -10       1          133
Philadelphia      66  96          30       5          133
Minnesota         85  77          -8       1          132
Chicago WS        67  95          28       5          111
Atlanta           72  90          18       4           85
Arizona           93  69         -24       1           70
Oakland           75  87          12       3           68
New York Mets     70  92          22       1           59
Tampa Bay         80  82           2       4           48
Baltimore         75  87          12       1           42
Detroit           64  98          34       1           37
San Francisco     64  98          34       1           35
LAA of Anaheim    80  82           2       2           19
Toronto           76  86          10       1           11
Texas             78  84           6       1            7
Kansas City       80  82           2       1            3
New York Yankees  91  71         -20      25            0
St. Louis         83  79          -4      10            0
LA Dodgers       104  58         -46       7            0
Washington        97  65         -32       6            0
Cleveland        102  60         -42       5            0
Chicago Cubs      92  70         -22       3            0
Houston (WS)     101  61         -40       3            0
Boston            93  69         -24       2            0

The top 2 are the same as a year ago. However, there was quite a bit of shuffling in the rest of the top 10 thanks to the unexpectedly good seasons from Milwaukee and Minnesota and less-than stellar seasons from Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

Some other items of note:

  • Houston was sixth a year ago with a Loser Score of 154. By winning the World Series the Astros dropped to zero. It is not the largest such decrease - the 1914 Miracle Braves, 1969 Mets and the 2015 Royals, among others, top them - but it does make the top 10 among teams that went to zero by virtue of a World Series win. Had they not won the WS they would have been at 67.
  • The Yankees posted their 23rd consecutive season with a Loser Score of zero. Since winning their first pennant in 1921 (and hitting zero the first time) the Yankees have had only 17 seasons with non-zero Loser Scores.
  • The Pirates remain atop the list for the 11th consecutive season. They came very close to dropping off two years ago but two consecutive below-.500 seasons have kept them on top while other teams (the Royals and Rockies) have seen some success. It is now fairly likely that even if the Pirates have a winning season in 2018 that they will stay on top for at least one more year.
  • The Blue Jays finally made it to zero in 2016 after not having made it there since 1993 despite five different single-digit seasons in that span, They took a step back in 2017.
  • Detroit had made it all the way back to zero in 2014 after not having been there since 1988. A losing season in 2015 followed by a winning season in 2016 put them at 2, but the 64-98 disaster dropped them to 37.
  • San Diego and Colorado remain the only franchises that have never been at zero. The Rockies were as low as 9 back in 1997 but they jumped back over 100 in 2004 and have been over 100 every year since then except for 2010. The Padres had their low-water mark at 25 in 2007; they haven’t been higher than their current 186 since 1983, the year before their first division title. They got back to 50 in 2010 but seven consecutive losing seasons have pushed them back up the chart.
  • If I had to guess which team was likely to push the Pirates off the top I’d pick the Reds; I can’t see them having a random good season any time soon.


    Mike Emeigh Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:41 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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       1. Sean Forman Posted: March 05, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603428)

    We might as well go for a lawsuit out of the box, eh?

    I read the Plaschke article and it does cross the line in my opinion.
    His use of thug imagery is pretty disturbing. I can't see him making
    a similar statement about Mike Piazza or Roger Clemens. Also, I'm
    not so sure that the Dick Allen/Kirby Puckett argument flies either.

    Kirby was on Roberto Clemente's career path before his injury and
    is a pretty good player. Dick Allen has no HOFers in his top ten most
       2. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 13, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603426)

    I read both the new and old version of the article. For what it's worth, I don't think that your comments are any more "over the line" than what Neyer typically has to say about journalists or baseball people. That said, Neyer is in a slightly different field than you when he writes his comments. Neyer's ESPN column puts him in a commentator/wonk role, while your peer review efforts places you more in the role of a hard scientist. Yes, this is slightly a matter of semantics, but a real distinction does exist in my mind. For the purposes of your PAP piece, you are really like the physicist reviewing a colleagues work for a scholarly journal, whereas Neyer is like the technology reporter for the New York Times who digests the work of the scientist (Woolner) and provides context and commentary for lay people like me. This is not to say that Neyer is less of a scientist or you are less of a columnist. Indeed, the science reporters are usually every bit able as the people doing the primary research. You are, however, providing different functions.

    This distinction is important, I think, because keeping it in mind will help sabermetrics gain respect as a "real" science. A science where peer review actually means something other than simply criticizing ones peers. Sure, physics and genetics has its share of personal squabbles, nit picking, and accusations embedded in the peer review process, but as a relatively new field, the science of baseball is going to be held to a higher standard than physics. Even if it is not, wouldn't it be great if, as it matures, the science of baseball finds itself to be a more congenial discipline? One that is immune from the pettiness that often characterizes the other, more established fields?

    In closing, I think it is fair for the BP's methods to be questioned, and the fact that it has the dual intent of selling books and providing good analysis is important to consider. I just think that such broader criticisms are better suited to an opinion piece than a piece containing valuable critical anlysis.

    Keep up the good work,

    Craig Calcaterra

       3. Rich Rifkin I Posted: March 13, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603433)
    Don - you wrote:

    "White Americans still are manifestly uncomfortable with demonstrative
    black males, and they're probably most uncomfortable with the ones who
    are making piles of dough."

    What evidence do you have to support that statement? When something is "manifest" it is obvious, clear to the eye. I am of the pale persuasion and don't mind people of any race or ethnicity who make lots of money. Being "demonstrative" is so vague, there is no way to know whether or not you are right in this regard. I am sure there are millions of other white Americans who share my lack of prejudice, in this regard. Thus, what your biased eye sees is evidently not so manifest.

    I find your making broad generalizations about a whole race of people despicable. Despite a long history of mistreatment of blacks by whites in the United States, it is no less racist to paint with a broad brush against whites than it is to make idiotic generalizations about black Americans.

    I recommend that in the future you restrain your racist impulses, unless you have some hard evidence to prove your claims.
       4. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 14, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603434)
    Due to a cut and paste error on my part, the John Pachot and Friends entry should've been separated under the Dodgers. I apologize to any Reds fans that became excited that Steve Bieser had become a part of their organization.
       5. Rich Rifkin I Posted: March 14, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603436)
    This is not yet a transaction, but don?t be too surprised when the A?s announce that Cory Lidle has won the 5th starter spot over Omar Olivares. Despite the fact that Olivares has a fat contract, he looks like he will start out the season as the A?s long reliever. I base my opinion on how very well Lidle has pitched in Spring and how very poorly Olivares has. But, the 5th starter job on most staffs is somewhat fluid, so either an injury or a few poor showings by Lidle in April and Olivares could have his old job back (assuming Billy Beane does not dump his contract).
       6. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 14, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603438)
    I wouldn't be surprised at all if Beane finds a taker for Olivares. He was a useful pickup at the time, but with guys like Zito coming up, he's pretty much outlive his usefulness. In fact, the ongoing rumor here in Baltimore is that Syd Thrift is very interested in picking up Olivares. Syd Thrift being Syd Thrift, the A's might even be able to pick up something small in return for getting to dump Olivares.

    Lidle has recovered remarkably from his shoulder surgery which ruined a few years.
       7. Sean Forman Posted: March 14, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603442)

    Thanks for the comments and thanks to everyone else as well. The point
    I'm trying to make is that I don't believe in they've shown that
    PAP measures abuse. We know repeated high pitch counts are bad, but
    why do we need this formula when we have pitch counts already? The
    formula implies that anything above 100 is bad and that the damage
    accumulates at an ever quickening rate. These are assumptions that
    must be proven, and I would argue that they haven't been.
       8. Sean Forman Posted: March 16, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603447)
    While I feel that Don went overboard on a sociological implications of
    this flap, I do think that Sheffield, Thomas and Bonds may be held to
    a different standard than other players. Also, no one aside from myself
    has commented on the Plaschke article that ran in the LA Times. Would
    such an article have been written about a white player?

    I've also added a link to an interesting piece in SportsJones regarding
    Allen Iverson, another black man with a negative image in the population at large.

    I also thought it might be instructive to make a list of players who have held out,
    demanded trades, etc. This year, Thomas and Sheffield are the main ones.

    J.D. Drew, Bobby Hill and the Travis Lee/John Patterson crew are some
    minor leaguers who had got around the draft system either by their will
    or a team's ineptitude.

    Roger Clemens, David Wells, Omar Vizquel are some other recent squawkers.
    Others? Vizquel's threatened holdout is very similar to Sheffield's in my
       9. Robert Posted: March 20, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603460)
    I welcome a correction.

    I would like to see the levels of both leagues work their way back to around 4.5 RPG. At that level, I feel you can still make a reasonable case for the stolen base as an offensive weapon.

    What we've had since 94 was something like a walking and homerun hitting contest.
       10. scruff Posted: March 20, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603464)
    I agree Robert, it's a lot like what James said about the 50s in the Historical Abstract. He says it better than I could, "The baseball of the 1950s was perhaps the most one dimensional, uniform, predictable version of the game that has ever been offered for sale . . . every team approached the game with the same essential offensive philosophy: get people on base and hit home runs . . . Since every team's offense was so much the same, a baseball game was not, as it is today (1985) and has been throughout most of baseball history, a clash of opposing philosophies or unlike skills, but rather was reduced to a simple test of quality, a day-to-day worry about which pitcher had his control and which one would slip a pitch into the wheelhouse of the other's behemoth, and how many men would be on base at the time. Perhaps this was exciting if your team was the Yankees or Dodgers (Braves could be subbed today) . . . and you figured each day that yours would be the fortunate team; besides those teams truly did play and exciting, aggressive game of baseball, as did a few other managers. Another point on which baseball drew heavy criticism from the media in the 50s was the length of the games . . . this engendered criticism that the games had become too slow, and in the early 60s a series of steps was taken to speed up the games." The two trip rule came in, as well as the new strike zone.

    It's like dejavu all over again . . .
       11. Voros McCracken Posted: March 21, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603461)
    I actually posted a few graphs of Win% plotted against Payroll for 2000.

    There are two:

    Is winning percentage as a function of Opening Day Payroll. The Payrolls
    used for this discussion must be opening day ones, or else you can
    immediately throwout a certain amount of causation, because you'll
    have effects preceding their causes (a no-no). And I have:

    Which is a graph of Win% Rank as a function of payroll rank.

    Now these are just the 2000 numbers and I've looked and the correlation is much
    worse than it was in 1999. So you have to be careful about looking at only 2000

    Still it is a decent argument against the argument that the problem is
    getting worse.
       12. Eugene Posted: March 22, 2001 at 12:00 AM (#603466)
    There is a lot of talk about when the large chest protectors were removed from umpire uniforms (in my sleepyness I forget which league) and how that effected the height of the strikezone and the runs per game rate. Do you have any comments on this, or is this a red herring.
       13. Jay Jaffe Posted: March 27, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603490)
    With regards to the shift in hitting theory, here's something else to consider: the impact of the Charley Lau hitting approach--the release of the top hand after contact to extend the swing. McGwire, Sosa, Junior, A-Rod and others all use this approach, which goes against the traditional keep-both-hands-on-the-bat approach.

    It's not exactly a brand-new idea (Lau's book was published in '80; he passed away in '84), but in the span of a generation of players this approach has gone from heretical to orthodoxy.
       14. Robert Posted: March 27, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603494)
    I think there are many factors affecting offensive levels. I think the bats have something to do with it. With the thin handles (and therefore lighter bats), players are able to generate more bat speed, which will allow them to hit the ball farther and perhaps also cause them to strike out more often (as % of outs).

    I wonder if the wood used for the bats is different or has been changing over the last 15 years. If so, after a sufficient number of players convert to new style or better bats, there might be an incremental effect on overall power numbers.

    I think walks have been going up partly due to the strike zone "shrinkage" (very slow). Perhaps more importnatly, increased walks are related to increased homeruns. It becomes circular: more homers, more guys trying to hit homers, more pitchers nibbling, more walks, more men on base, more guys going for the downs (to drive in the ducks on the pond). Or maybe the circle starts with the walks because of the strikezone.

    If I were a pitcher I would view the matter differently: the greater the threat of the homer, the more the pitcher should be trying to throw strikes rather than nibble and risk walking guys - but I don't think pitchers think this way.

    The bats, or the hitting background, or laser surgery can improve a hitter's performance, but the only ways a pitcher can improve are related to his abilities: throw harder, improve control, learn new pitches, improve pitch selection.

    Perhaps the theory should be: barring any powerful counterveiling forces, offence will tend to rise.
       15. Mike Webber Posted: March 27, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603500)
    One other thing factor I think is the improvement of eyesight among players. Improvements in eyesight would included on this list would be eye surgeries, increased testing by clubs, and wearing contacts carrying less stigma than actual glasses.
       16. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 28, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603503)
    It's not just that teams are more willing to use their 9th and 10th
    pitchers, but that more teams are carrying 12 (and sometimes 13)
    pitchers, too. In commenting about Whitey Herzog, Bill James once wrote
    that the more pitchers you use on any given day, the more likely you
    are to find the one who doesn't have his stuff that day. Since the
    time frame in Don's note suggests that the increase in offense occurred
    about the time that LaRussian strategies for pitching staff construction
    came into full vogue, it would be interesting to look at pitcher usage
    patterns over that time frame, as well.

    -- MWE
       17. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 28, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603505)
    If the quality of the hitters has improved by a larger factor than the
    quality of the pitchers, then pitchers will LOOK worse relative to
    the hitters now than they did then. And since managers are being more
    selective now with regard to hitters (because they are usually
    selecting just 12 or 13 rather than 15 or 16) and less selective with
    regard to pitchers (because they are now selecting 12 or 13 rather than
    9 or 10), then it's very possible that the quality of the average
    major league pitcher HAS declined relative to the quality of the
    average hitter, even though the quality of pitchers _as a group_
    has improved.

    You have to think about both sides of the issue.

    -- MWE
       18. Voros McCracken Posted: March 29, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603529)
    A similar experiment in multiple endpoints makes an excellent bar bet
    for those so inclined. :)

    Each person gets a deck of cards. You bet the victim that if you both
    flip over cards one at a time, that at some point before you finish
    the deck you'll both flip over the exact same card at the same time.

    Intuitively this sounds unlikey, but this is why Multiple Endpoints is
    such an often used and deadly argument.

    The chances of that happening (turning over the same card at some point
    in the deck) is actually somewhere near 65%, so after doing this ten times or so
    you should wind up well ahead of the game.

    Of course gambling is illegal and gambling against someone who has been
    drinking is unethical. This is just a hypothetical example. :)
       19. Bruce Markusen Posted: March 29, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603530)
    Sean and Jim, I don't understand why you should be prohibited from using the name
    baseballprimer. It's obviously not the same URL as baseballprospectus.
    The abbreviation might be the same (BP), but in an internet world where there
    are 17 million websites, how can that be avoided?

    Obviously there will be some degree of statistical duplication between the two sites.
    So many new relatively new statistics like OPS, equivalent average and the like
    are so widely accepted in the sabermetric community (just like RBIs and
    ERA are accepted in the "established" baseball community) that duplication is bound to happen.
    Is there a specific area of duplication that baseballprospectus is objecting to?

    More importantly, from the standpoint of a reader such as myself, the content on your website
    is so much more in depth than what is presented at baseballprospectus. Without
    knowing more about their legal action (perhaps it is just an April Fool's joke but if
    it is, it's in poor taste), it seems like baseballprospectus is expressing
    some degree of jealousy. Rather than go forward with such legal action, baseball
    prospectus should try to improve the quality of its site.

    If the folks at baseballprospectus really considered the advancement of baseball
    knowledge as important as they'd like us to believe, then they wouldn't be
    trying to remove one of the best baseball websites currently available.


    Bruce Markusen
    Cooperstown, NY
       20. Michael Posted: March 29, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603531)
    I just sent the following to the baseballprospectus mailbag:
    I enjoy your site and was just about to order a copy of this years Baseball Pospectus when I read I have now reconsided. I hope that the article is some joke gone bad, or somehow gets cleared up, but if it is true that you are taking legal action against I will not by any of your products and will encourage others not to as well. Baseball analysis can only benefit from more discussion, and I think the Internet is big enough for both baseballprimer and baseballprospectus.
       21. Robert Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603540)
    That "letter" is just about the most ridiculous piece of garbage I've ever read.

    What is with the "you are hereby instructed" crap ? I always thought that if you feel hard done by, you first talk things out (as others have commented).

    And can they point out any of the "images or written content you have wrongfully copied". I haven't seen any.

    I agree with Dean - this is all about power and trying to scare away potential competition.

       22. Scott Lange Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:01 AM (#603542)
    This is disgraceful. I hope everyone will e-mail Baseball Prospectus and let them know what you think. Here is the email I sent them:

    I have been a reader of your website for two years now and I have purchased each of your last two books. I have enjoyed your work, and quietly "rooted" for you in your cute little feud with the BBBA folks. Today I read Sean Forman's web log and find that you are threatening them with a lawsuit, apparently because they have opened a baseball site that is called "Baseball P_____." Of course, since most baseball sites will start with the word baseball, you are apparently arguing that only you may operate a baseball site where the second word starts with the letter "P," and by implication that there may be only twenty-six baseball content sites with their own domain names on the web.

    I hope there is more to this than your letter posted on Sean's web log indicates. If so, please print an article explaining yourselves post haste. If not, I hope you retract your threats and apologize. This is already a black mark against you in my book, and the longer you go without retracting or explaining, the less I as a formerly loyal fan think of you.
       23. Scruff Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603543)
    Just want to concur with the sentiments. I know you have to take the high road, but I agree with Dean, as far as cutting them off. If they want a war, they've got one. Let's go to the mattresses. Great analagy with Elias/James, Dean. It's Stern (primer) vs. Imus (them). Stern's listener's are loyal and they are many. You guys have built the same type of repore with your audience. I didn't drink Snapple for years when Stern warred with them. I will not reference their stats, read their site, or buy their book, which I was about to do this weekend. You guys have promoted them and they slap it back in your face. I am so angered by this letter I could explode. Scott, I will be sending a similar letter to the "other" site. I do like the fact, that in explorer, when I type www.baseballpr, your site is first on the list (it's alphabetical) so I can just arrow down and hit enter. Maybe that's why they are mad. They won't win this war. I wouldn't lose any sleep if I were you.
       24. Robert Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603545)
    Scruff... I'm in total agreement.

    Maybe to win the "alphabetical" war, they should change their name to "B******* Praspectus".

    By the way, I'm so upset by their behaviour that I'll throw in a gratuitous remark (which as many of you may know is unusual for me): I hate EqA - it's a meaningless measure that doesn't refer to or attempt to measure anything real in baseball, unlike RC or XR or OWPCT or WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT.

       25. Cooper Teenoh Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603547)
    I'm sorry, but you can't reasonably expect to set up shop next to an established website with a name so close, offer similar and in the Oracle's case identical content, and not expect this. There's an obligation on their part to take action in these cases to prevent trademark dilution. As much as I've enjoyed reading Primer, I've wondered myself about the name choice and how long it'd be before this happened. I mean really, when I start typing the BP URL into Explorer, the autocomplete gives me Primer first.

    I'm sure your lawyers are going to tell you the same thing, though, but if you want a random guy-on-the-street advice, here: find a totally unrelated domain name and re-open shop, and chalk this up to experience.
       26. Scruff Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603549)
    I don't want to discourage dissenting opinions, so don't take this the wrong way, but does anyone know if Brandon is KL's middle name?

    Seriously though, how can anyone say the two sites have names that are so close as to infringe on a copyright? Brandon, if you want to go the other site, type in the additional R and O, because if you ever been to any site like or any other site that starts with baseball, autocomplete won't give you baseballprimer until you get to baseballp. Typing two letters is not a lot to base a lawsuit on.

    Scott you hit the nail on the head. If Brandon is correct, we really are limited to 26 sites in the stathead community.

    Sean, maybe you shouldn't have written that PAP article after all . . .
       27. Rich Rifkin I Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603552)
    My addition to this discussion is admittedly small. I agree that ballpark factors, slimmer bats, hitting technique, weight training, and so on are all larger contributers. But I think a marginal factor which is mistakenly overlooked is the average hitter's age has gone up markedly in the last decade and more.

    If you look at each league's batter's age - on - you will see that after hitting a low point in the mid-1970s (when offense was also at its nadir) batters in both leagues have gradually become older and older. The average hitter is now about 2 years older than he was 25 years ago.

    What does having an older average hitter mean? It means that the average hitter is - on a knowledge-basis - further along the learning curve of how to hit major league pitching. Of course, it also means that the same guy has physically deteriorated more than a guy two years younger. But due to superior training in recent years (maybe beginning in the late 1980s or early '90s?), the 29 year old of today may be in better physical shape than the 27 year old of 1975.

    Thus, what I am in effect hypothesizing is that better physical conditioning translates to the above effect.
       28. Robert Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603555)
    Since when does BPROS****** own "Transaction Listings". They own their analyses of or comments concerning transactions, just as Dan owns his.

    If Sammy Sosa hits a homerun, does only one media source have the right to report it or comment on it or analyse his swing ? If one newspaper first reports that Sammy Sosa hit a homerun over the RF wall and another newspaper writes that Sammy Sosa smashed a homerun over the RF wall, is that identical content which is classed as Trademark infringement ?

    Bill James analysed Philadelphia Phillies trades from 1974-1984 in his 85 Abstract and I'm sure he wasn't the first person to publish an analysis of a trade. So it's not like a guy came up with a completely novel idea - hey let's have a column where we analyse trades and other transactions. GIVE ME A BREAK.

    Bring on the ORACLE!!!

       29. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603557)

    As a lawyer, I find it interesting that the Baseball Prospectus people wrote their "cease and decist" letter themselves rather than hire actual legal counsel (is Keith Law an attorney, or is he just using the last name as a crededntial?). I would think that if they honestly thought that their rights were being infringed they would retain counsel rather than consult a lawyer friend or find a form letter with which to threaten you. That's what bullies do.

    That aside, I tend to agree with the previous posts from lawyers or those who play them on TV. I'm not IP expert, but I am having trouble seeing what of theirs is being ripped off. The Washington Post and New York Times seem to be able to report on the same stuff without getting into legal battles. They even both have sections and departments (Op Ed., Sports, Business) with identical names and subject matter. This is where that would seem to fall.

    That aside too, this is really regretable. Following on my the letter I wrote in the wake of the PAP aritcle, my sincere hope is that the Prospectus and the Primer can coexist like scholars in the same field, each making the other's work better, each advancing our understanding of baseball, all of which leads to a greater enjoyment of the game.

    Craig Calcaterra
       30. Robert Dudek Posted: March 30, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603565)
    This used to be "Robert". I've decided to use my full name to avoid possible confusion.

    I can't speak for Sean and Jim, but it seems that "Primer" makes sense, because the site can be viewed (at least in part) as a kind of introduction to the "sabrmetric" world for baseball fans who aren't familiar with baseball analysis. That would make it a type of electronic "Primer" based on the following definitions I found:

    a) an elementary textbook b) small book containing basic facts about a subject

    The fact that the first 2 letters are the same means something only if you assume sinister motives. So Sean and Jim were supposed to be sitting there at night looking at all the pr- words in the dictionary to take some sort of revenge upon BPROS****** ? COME ON !!!

    2 letters is not enough to prove infringement, is it ? The sites look different. They operate differently. There are no BLOGS on that other site and they don't post anything like the number of links to news articles that "Primer" does and they don't invite discussion about them.

       31. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603572)
    With all due respect to the people commenting here about the legal claim, is there any point? If you want to comment on the ethical issues involved, that's one thing. But for people here to comment on the legal issues is like Syd Thrift discussing the derivation of linear weights, or like Peter Gammons discussing baseball. If you're not a lawyer, you're not qualified to discuss the merits of the claim. And if you are a lawyer, you should be cautious enough to wait to hear all the facts, from both sides, before rendering an authoritative-sounding opinion.

    It's not a slam dunk for the Prospectus folks, certainly, but the Primer argument is not a clear-cut winner, either. Since it's apparent that a significant part of the Prospectus claim revolves around the names of the sites, ESPN/CNN comparisons aren't particularly helpful.

    Hopefully this can be resolved quickly and fairly to both sides, with a minimal amount of acrimony, since both sites have a lot to offer. I don't think all the people jumping in here to proclaim the evil of one side or the other is a very constructive approach, however.
       32. Robert Dudek Posted: March 31, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603573)
    Mr. Nieporent

    One can understand Law to be a practical application of ethics. The 2 are never entirely separate.

    If one company threatens another with a lawsuit, it becomes a legal issue and by extention an ethical one as well. Maybe the questions "is Primer legally in the wrong?" and "is Primer ethically in the wrong?" are different ones, but in a perfect world what is legally wrong should also be ethically wrong.

    I'm not a legal expert by any stretch of the imagination, but in my humble opinion, it is necessary to first discuss if Primer did anything ethically wrong. And if so, what is the just punishment. The legal aspects will be ironed out between the 2 parties before or during a trial.

    Since every human being has a right (and is presumably qualified) to discuss ethics, I would like to consider this situation from an ethical perspective (as I have been doing all along).

    I think that based on what the letter states (no other justification for the suit has so far been offered) there is no basis for arguing that "Primer" did anything ETHICALLY wrong. Feel free to disagree and provide specifics to support your views. I also believe that "BPROS******" has threatened legal action where none seems warranted, and that this in itself is a hostile act which I consider to be unethical. I am angry not only because of their (IMO - unwarranted) attack, but also because they absolutely did not make any attempt to deal with the issue in a more amicable manner. That to me does not constitute gentlemanly behaviour, even though is is not illegal.

    Speaking more generally, I ask any lawyers reading this if there is any law against threatening "unwarranted" legal action. I hope there is, because that is precisely what I think has happened here. Of course I understand that "unwarranted" would have to be proven in court.
       33. Kurt Posted: March 31, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603574)
    This matter of copyright infringement certainly does seem out of character with the
    type of editorials and opinions posted on B-Prospectus' site, and it's really hard to imagine
    that the letter isn't an April Fool's joke. However, I suppose B-Primer has enough reason
    to believe it is genuine. Let me preface my next comment by stating that I do regularly read both
    sites and couldn't care less what domain name either one uses. What I question,
    is the motive for publishing the letter on the B-Primer site and the all of the largely supportive page of
    reader comments. Is this to portray this site as "the Good Guys" and B-Prospectus as
    "the Bad Guys"? It sure does seem that way. Why wouldn't the editors of this site keep the matter
    private until a resolution or final decision has been made? It would seem to me that the
    only reason would be to generate favorable public opinion, or (a bit more cynically) to
    generate unfavorable public opinion towards B-Prospectus. I am very curious as to why they felt this matter needed a public forum.
       34. Voros McCracken Posted: March 31, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603575)
    Just to clarify how the page works, per Kurt's comments:

    Comments are posted to the page automatically. The site adminstrator
    doesn't determine which comments go up and which don't, they all go
    up. Only comments that violate posting policies on the site are

    So Kurt, I just wanted to clarify this particular point about how the
    site runs, as I wasn't sure (from your comment) that you understood
    that portion of the site. Thanks.
       35. Robert Dudek Posted: March 31, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603576)
    As to why Primer didn't keep the matter private, that's for Sean and Jim to answer.

    All I can say is that if one day when I loaded up this site, the words "we are no longer able to operate under this IP address...we apologize for the inconvenience" appeared, I would certainly be asking myself what had gone wrong.

    This "attack" as I feel justified in calling it affects the readership of this web-site and I for one do not see a problem with allowing the readership to express its collective opinion on the matter.

    I used to be among the readership of that web-site and would still be if I hadn't learned of their actions. I have no reason to believe that a hoax has been perpetrated and I believe the letter published here is genuine. I am offended by their actions and I personally no longer wish to visit their site or buy their merchandise.

       36. Robert Dudek Posted: March 31, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603579)

    Thanks for the very interesting information.

       37. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 31, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603580)
    I'm inclined to agree with David Nieporent (which I'm sure will surprise
    the heck out of him). I hope this is resolved quickly and with a minimum
    of acrimony. There's no reason why anyone on either the Prospectus team
    or the Primer team should feel threatened by the presence of the other
    group - it's HEALTHY, and good for sabrmetrics as a whole, to have competing
    viewpoints in the field.

    -- MWE
       38. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603582)
    In response to Mike, I'm not surprised that you agree with me; you're often reasonable. It's the times you disagree with me that surprise me. <g>

    In response to Robert Dudek, I don't have a problem with general comments about ethics, like "Shouldn't they have tried to work this out before sending a letter like that?" It's people saying "Oh, this is stupid, they don't have a case" that I was specifically criticizing. And whether the case is "unwarranted," as you term it, is a function of legal issues. Defending trademarks is a complex matter, not to be addressed with glib dismissals.

    In response to Ted, I didn't mean to criticize general legal observations. I'm not an IP specialist, but I have some familiarity with some of the major cybersquatting-related cases, and I can spot some potential issues here also. (The autocomplete issue struck me as soon as I experienced it, long before this letter was sent.) But there were several comments posted, either here or in the parallel discussion in Sean's blog, that seemed to approach the arena of legal advice, and it didn't seem very sensible for untrained nonlawyers or uninformed lawyers to be handing out legal opinions. After all, for all any of us know, there's evidence out there that the name was chosen deliberately to confuse, or evidence that the name was chosen 5 years ago, before the Prospectus website existed. Either is unlikely, but yaneverknow.

    But my real point is that this entire discussion seems unproductive. It will be resolved amicably or through the courts, but either way, it will be resolved by the Primer and Prospectus people, not any of us posting on the web.
       39. Sean Forman Posted: April 01, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603590)
    I just wanted to state for the record that the font in use on the primer
    site is not Galliard. It is Eras Demi or Bold, I don't recall exactly which.
    I'm not a typographer, so I
    can't speak to any similarities or differences that these fonts have.

    I use Fireworks for all of my graphics needs, and after checking I found
    that Galliard isn't available in that program. I have always
    had a strong affinity for the Eras fonts.,,
    and Big Bad Baseball Plus all use Eras fonts. Excepting that both
    are sans serif fonts, a quick look at the
    a's, e's, p's and b's will show that the logos are quite different.

    As to some of the other more serious questions,
    Jim Furtado is working on some replies to the questions asked here, so
    I'll defer to that note when it is posted either later today, tomorrow or
    Tuesday. I hope you will find his answers satisfactory.

    On an unrelated note, watch out for the Red Sox. They've been
    pretty hot lately and will be getting Manny back just in time. I also
    asked the congregation to pray for Nomar today, so I'm hoping for good
    news on that front as well.
       40. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 01, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603592)
    Ted, you've hit on my point. I haven't done any TM registration searches, and while I first became aware of primer within the past month, I don't know when the Primer people first started using it in commerce. I stopped following the BBBA a long time ago because of their attitudes, and didn't start reading them again until this site appeared, so far all I know, Primer has been using it for a while, without my knowledge. I just didn't want to jump to any conclusions.

    You're absolutely right that the fonts look extremely similar, if not identical. I'm not sure that the LL Bean example is useful; it's hard to imagine an innocent explanation for lllbean, while Baseball Primer is not nearly as egregious to the point where bad faith is the only explanation. The finding in that matter was that "lllbean" was a common misspelling of llbean; that doesn't apply here.

    As for the people who insist that the BP1 people should have worked it out with the BP2 people instead of sending this letter, (1) we don't know what the BP1 people did before sending the letter, and (2) if the BP1 people had called up and said "Please stop using the name BP2," do you think that Sean/Jim would have immediately said "Oh, sorry. Okay, we'll change our name"?

    And, as a fellow traveller of Ted's, I agree that posting the letter and inviting people to send protests to BP wasn't the most productive approach.
       41. The Original Gary Posted: April 01, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603594)

    Please. If people are so concerned about autocomplete, why don't they just use a bookmark. And font types? Is the Primer allowed to use English as it's language? Or is that an infringement as well?

    Also, I don't remeber seeing any requests to bad mouth Prospectus. The letter has been presented as news. If the Prospectus people have been embarassed by this don't blame Primer.
       42. Doug Drinen Posted: April 02, 2001 at 12:02 AM (#603599)
    To all those who say Prospectus has to do this to protect their
    trademark against future infringement,

    What's with the copyright infringement claim? The letter instructs
    Primer to remove, among other things, "written content that you have
    wrongfully copied" and makes references to "identical content."
    There is one article that has material copied from
    Prospectus (the book), but that was well within the guidelines of fair

    Whether Prospectus has a trademark infringement case or not
    (insert I-am-not-a-lawyer disclaimer here), they do not have a
    copyright infringement case. So for me, "just doing what they had
    to after being put in an awkward position" doesn't explain all their
       43. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 02, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603602)
    Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer. I can read, though :)

    I spent some time on the Cornell law Web site, where there is a
    copy of the US Code. Section 1125(d) of Title 15 deals with
    cyberpiracy, specifically with registration of domain names similar
    to registered trademarks. Some relevant sections:

    (begin citation)

    A person shall be liable in a civil action by the owner of a mark,
    including a personal name which is protected as a mark under this
    section, if, without regard to the goods or services of the parties,
    that person -

    (i) has a bad faith intent to profit from that mark, including
    a personal name which is protected as a mark under this section;

    (ii) registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that -

    (I) in the case of a mark that is distinctive at the time of
    registration of the domain name, is identical or confusingly
    similar to that mark;


    In determining whether a person has a bad faith intent described
    under subparagraph (A), a court may consider factors such as, but
    not limited to -


    (V) the person's intent to divert consumers from the mark owner's
    online location to a site accessible under the domain name that
    could harm the goodwill represented by the mark, either for
    commercial gain or with the intent to tarnish or disparage the mark,
    by creating a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship,
    affiliation, or endorsement of the site;


    Bad faith intent described under subparagraph (A) shall not be found
    in any case in which the court determines that the person believed
    and had reasonable grounds to believe that the use of the domain
    name was a fair use or otherwise lawful.

    (end citation)

    There are two things that would have to be proved here before
    Baseball Prospectus could carry the argument:

    1. Is "" confusingly similar to

    2. If so, did Sean and Jim have a "bad faith intention" to profit
    from that mark?

    I have no doubt that Sean and Jim believed they acted in good
    faith when registering the domain name, but the question is whether
    a court will find that belief to have been reasonable. Like David
    and Ted, I'm not certain the issue is cut and dried. I think "bad
    faith" will be very difficult to prove, but after reading the
    sections of the code I've quoted above it's not beyond the realm of

    -- MWE
       44. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 02, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603603)
    Just a quick PS:

    I don't think anything is to be gained by questioning the motives
    or the sincerity of any of the players in this action - not Sean
    and Jim, not the Prospectus authors, and especially not the posters
    on this thread.

    -- MWE
       45. Alan Shank Posted: April 03, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603610)
    One thing Don overlooked is that the mound was lowered between '68 and '69, and this probably had a greater effect than the strike zone, as it was independent of the umpires.
       46. Alan Shank Posted: April 04, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603618)
    Mike Gimbel, a sabrmetrician who worked for Montreal and Boston under Dan Duquette, used Stats, Inc.'s play-by-play data in his "Defensive RPA" data. His stuff was the best I've ever seen, as it took extra-base hits into account and also was done on a park-by-park basis, so that differences in ballparks were taken into account.

    He published a book called "Baseball Player Ratings" for several years, beginning in 1992 I believe. Actually, his stuff was on Jim Furtado's Web site for a while.
    Alan Shank
       47. Chris Dial Posted: April 04, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603619)
    I haven't seen alot of Mike Gimbel's work. I've read some and exchanged a few ideas with him.
    However, the first blush information I got left me unsettled with the way he did park factors,
    as well as how he rated fielders. I'll try to get a hold of his books and learn more about his process.

       48. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 05, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603620)
    The most important point in this article bears repeating:

    "They do this not so much because they believe that nobody in the
    excluded pool can succeed in the majors, but rather because they believe
    the rewards of getting the pool of players down to a manageable
    number outweigh the risks of missing a player here and there. In fact,
    this could very well be the most effective method available to them,
    and yet it would still lead to hidden information problems."

    Similar problems with hidden information affect the various ways of
    estimating major league performance from minor league numbers. We know
    that MLEs work well for players who pass the bar and are admitted to the
    major leagues. What we don't know - and what we can't know, because of the
    same hidden information problem - is whether the MLEs work as well for
    players like a Petagine or an Arquimedez Pozo. Is there some fundamental
    flaw in their skill set that doesn't show up in their minor league
    performance, but which scouts know major league pitchers will exploit to
    death? Or are they just victims of the other ways that the pool is narrowed?

    We don't know, and we can't know. If you turn the statements that Voros
    makes around - "Keith Foulke would be a good starting pitcher? or
    ?Roberto Petagine can hit major league pitching" - his conclusion is
    equally valid.

    -- MWE
       49. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 05, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603621)
    Damn, Don. That's possibly the best thing I've read on the philosophy of baseball since Giammatti's "Take Time for Paradise." Honestly, I didn't know you had it in you. Great work.
       50. Darren Posted: April 06, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603625)
    Interesting theory, but I don't think you've quite made your case. What you've shown is that Clemens is more effective on 5 days rest than Clemens is on 4 days rest. What you haven't shown is whether giving Clemens an extra day of rest will be likely to eliminate his annual trip to the disabled list. If he pitches every 6th day and hits the DL, now we're taking about him making 25-27 starts.

    There are two other questions your story doesn't answer: Who will start those extra games for the Yankees? and Is this phenomenon that strictly related to being 38? First, the question of the other starter. Simply stating that teams have lots of useless baggage does not create a 6th starter for the Yanks, who are already pressed to find a 5th starter. Second, as the above poster notes, Pedro Martinez has been handled in much the way you suggest and has been pretty darn effective. Perhaps this extra day of rest is beneficial to pitchers young and old.

    Lastly, some notes on the statistics in this piece. Clemens pitched one shutout in 1999, not three. You state that Clemens could move from winning 58 percent of his starts to 70 percent. That may be, but I don't know where you get that number. It seems rather arbitrary.

    I think the best way to get Clemens healthy is to have him wear Mo Vaughn body armor on the mound. It seems like half his injuries result from batted balls hitting him.
       51. Rich Rifkin I Posted: April 06, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603627)
    When the Cubs drafted Brooks Kieschnick in the 1st round, there was a diversity of opinions among the various organizations in major league baseball at the time.

    However, when the Cubs lost faith in Kieschnick (after McPhail tookover), all of the other 27 clubs had every opportunity to trade for Kieschnick. Ultimately, the Reds (and now I think the Rockies) did take a gamble on Kieschnick. But insofar as Kieschnick has not had any impact in the major leagues - having had very few major league AB's so far - I think that is largely just a reflection of the fact that not one of the current 30 teams really admires Kieschnick's talent.

    If there were only 4 teams in major league baseball, it seems conceivable to me that a decent player might get overlooked by the prejudice of only those four teams. But in a world of 30 teams (plus some foreign bidders for baseball talent), if no one thinks enough to grab a guy (like Kieschnick), I think there's a very, very strong chance that they are right.

    As far as Piazza goes, that better makes the case how a potentially very good player (who is in high school) can be overlooked - there are just so many, many players in the U.S. and in so many foreign countries to scout. Some good ones will get away (at that level). But that would not have been the end of the road for Mike Piazza. There are hundreds and hundreds of junior colleges in the United States playing very competitive baseball, so if Piazza was not much of a scholar, he could have made his way onto one of those teams and proved himself to scouts at that level. Or if he was a good student, he might have done the same at one of the better (for baseball) 4-year colleges.

    My sense is that if there are some talented players not getting a fair shot, they are not the types like Mike Piazza or Brooks Kieschnick. Rather, they are players who come from very troubled families or neighborhoods, and they never finish even a high school education. Joe Morgan has often spoken eloquently that scouts are mistakenly not picking up on the talent in poor black communities. And insofar as this is true, I would bet that the players Morgan views as having real abilities but are overlooked are ones who dropped out of school early and had no team on which they could show themselves to scouts.
       52. Russ Posted: April 10, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603636)
    Ross, your comment about non-lawyers commenting on legal issues is akin to saying non-major-league-ballplayers should not comment on major-league-baseball topics. Absurd. The leagl system is supposed to be by-the people for-the-people. To say otherwise is similar to saying slaves are 3/5 human. A lawyer may be more expert on the subject, but everyone should be entitled to express their opinion. After all, laws are constantly changed for just this reason.

    I visit both sites. I like both, but neither are indispensable as harsh as that may sound. If I were the "baseball primer" people, I would take the letter from the "bsaeball prospectus" people as a valuable piece of information. I would not WANT my site confused in any way with the other site and would be very thankful that someone pointed out how easily the two could be confused.

    Forget the perceived pettiness of the "baseball prospectus" people; focusing on it does not advance the field at all.

    If it helps smooth the waters, I'd suggest dumping the transaction column and the fantasy stuff. The transaction comments, regardless of the site, are nothing more than page filler. The fantasy stuff is overdone everywhere and has become the black eye for sabremetrics. I've done roto-ball for 10 years and I haven't read any fantasy articles for the last six or seven years. The value just isn't there. The most useful article I've read recently that has helped in fantasy ball was Voros' DIPS stuff.

    Counterpoints welcomed.
       53. Michael Posted: April 11, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603639)
    I enjoyed your article, Sean.

    I don't know whether the first version (not available apparently now) was out of line, but it can't be any more out of line than the 1999 & 2000 Big Bad Baseball Annuals were in making attacks and included namecalling. They seemed to disagree with PAP merely because someone else thought of it first and then posted color-coded graphs on their website of rolling 3-start pitch counts, again for no more obvious reason than they thought it made intuitive sense (or at least that's my recollection of it). Not that you implied otherwise, but it'd be nice to acknowledge that others throw out sabermetric measures without first backing them with research.

    Now that we've progressed to the point where we can have well-written, well-researched peer review, maybe we can have some real research. It's incredible with the data now available and seemingly a fair number of interested researchers that we still are relying on things like small-scale studies Bill James did in the 1980s or Craig Wright's book published in the 1980s before the necessary data was widely available to support some of our most basic sabermetric tenets.
       54. Scruff Posted: April 12, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603647)
    I guess C.
       55. Scruff Posted: April 12, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603651)
    This is the first time in awhile that I've heard that the SLG is more important than the OBP. Isn't the weight usually 1.4:1 for OBP, 1.25:1 if you want to be conservative?

    James posed the question in one of his Abstracts, when he asked: What team would score more runs, a team of Vince Coleman's or a team of Kevin McReynolds'? He said that while McReynolds was a better player in the context of a normal team, the Coleman team would score more runs because there would always be people on base to keep the cycle going. If anything this would be enhanced by a team of OBP guys, not diminished. Throw in the extra pitches and how deep they'd be into bullpens. They would hit into a ton of DPs though, so that would lower it some.

    Also, if the pitchers decided to throw more strikes (which I don't think they would), the hitters become better hitters, not worse.

    As for 9000 plate appearances, there are 4374 outs in a major league season. Figure a team like this would hit into 200 DPs give or take a few. A team w/a .425 OBP would have about 7250 PA's, you'd have to be at about a .535 OBP to get 9000 plate appearances.
       56. scruff Posted: April 12, 2001 at 12:03 AM (#603654)
    Sean, when a pitcher throws more strikes because he has more command it makes him a better pitcher. But when he starts throwing strikes because he's afraid of walking people usually gets hammered. That's one of the things that makes Thomas and his type so great. He's got such a great eye that to get him out pitchers have to risk putting the ball right where he wants it. The same thing would happen if pitchers tried to pitch these guys differently. I think the pitchers did the best they could to get them out as it was. I don't think that would have changed if they had all played for the same team.
       57. Scott Lange Posted: April 15, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603667)
    Can someone offer a bit of explanation about the "Law of Competitive Balance"? As I have understood it, it is the idea that players or teams who have "career years" will tend to move towards their career averages the next season. As applied to the All-OBP team listed above, it would mean that since they all had years that were better than their usual performance, they would probably not do as well next year. I don't understand why the article seems to say that they would have done worse if they had been on the same team. Similarly, I don't understand the comment that a sim like Diamond Mind wouldn't let a team of .440 OBP guys have a .440 team OBP. Why not? If you were projecting their results for the next year, then of course you would expect them to move toward their career averages, but if you are just seeing how a team with all of them on it would have done, then shouldn't they hit just as well as they actually did?
       58. Tangotiger Posted: April 17, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603670)
    This is another good example of the limitations of OBAxSLG or any other shortcut. If I've seen it once, I've seen it one hundred times. Just because OPS or OTS works in "normal" conditions doesn't mean it will work in extreme conditions like this one. I trust a properly constructed simulator more than such a simple formula which UNDERWEIGHTS WALKS to begin with. I understand the rationale of the argument, but it doesn't hold up to testing. On top of which, David Smyth used a more "fuller" formula and he came up with the same number as the simulator.
       59. Darren Posted: April 18, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603672)
    We're supposed to read this crap by the guy who said "pitchers are only responsible for the homeruns, walks, and strikeouts?"
       60. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 18, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603673)
    I had a chance to look at Michael Bodell's simulator code (thanks,
    Michael). Most of Michael's simplifying assumptions (no SBs, CS,
    sacrifice bunts, etc.) likely have little or no net effect on run
    scoring, especially for a team of this ilk. However, he does make
    one simplification - no DPs - that probably does have a major
    impact on scoring. I would expect a .290/.425/.425 team with normal
    GB/FB ratios to ground into about 180 double plays. That would cost
    such a team about 90 runs, pushing the estimate down to around
    1100 runs.

    The 2001 Mariners, as a quick example of what this type of team might
    be able to accomplish, lead the AL in walks so far, have a decent BA
    (11 points above league average) but below-average SLG. Their OTS
    estimate is 73 runs, and they've actually scored 77, about 5% more
    than the estimate. If the 5% OTS underestimate for high-walk/low-SLG
    is real (and that's only one data point, of course, so I have no way
    of knowing whether or not it's representative), the hypothetical team
    of Don's example would be pushed over 1000 runs.

    Regardless, I think this would be an interesting point for future

    -- MWE
       61. Darren Posted: April 18, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603676)

    If you're so smart, why do you spell your last name with a "Y" instead of an "I."

    Wouldn't an "I" be a better choice. I have a very hard time taking criticism from a guy who spells his name so strangely.
       62. Tangotiger Posted: April 18, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603677)
    Hey Voros, I enjoyed your article, and I just wish more people would be able to argue by sticking to the basis of discussion. As soon as the basis is changed, the argument is lost. I know people are bad arguers when I ask a yes/no question, and they give me a song-and-dance.

    If someone can point out ONE TV debate where the debaters actually answer each other, I'd love to hear about it.
       63. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 18, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603678)
    Following up on my own comment:

    Using Sean Lahman's database and a couple of imaginative queries,
    I looked at the OTS run estimates for two groups of teams since 1946:

    -- teams which were in the upper 10% of the group in on-base
    rate (BB+HBP/PA) and in the bottom 10% in isolated power

    -- teams in the bottom 10% of the group in OB rate and in the upper
    10% in IP.

    This didn't tell me much, since there were only five teams in
    group A and two teams in group B. However, for the high OB/low SLG
    teams, the OTS estimate was too low for four of the five teams
    (BA/OBP/SLG in parens):

    BRO(N) 1946: 686 est/701 act (.260/.348/.361)
    PHI(A) 1948: 684 est/729 act (.260/.353/.362)
    CHI(A) 1949: 650 est/648 act (.257/.347/.347)
    WAS(A) 1950: 679 est/690 act (.260/.347/.360)
    MON(N) 1974: 650 est/662 act (.254/.335/.350)

    The two low OB/high SLG teams both played in Milwaukee, albeit in
    different leagues, and the results here were quite different:

    MIL(N) 1965: 739 est/708 act (.256/.310/.416)
    MIL(A) 1980: 863 est/811 act (.275/.329/.448)

    I ran one more test, this time using IP/OB as calculated above. I
    selected 48 "low SLG relative to OB" teams (IP/OB<1) and 54 "high
    SLG relative to OB" teams (IP/OB>=1.87) For the 54 "low SLG" teams,
    the estimates split right down the middle; 27 were too low, 27 were
    too high. For the 48 "high SLG" teams, on the other hand, 46
    estimates were too high, and just two were too low.

    From this, I would hypothesize that the "accelerative effect" of OBP
    is correctly stated in the OTS formula, but the "accelerative effect"
    of isolated power is overstated. If you want to interpret this as BB's
    being undervalued, I suppose you can do that.

    -- MWE
       64. Darren Posted: April 19, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603681)

    I suppose I could just keep going on like this, attacking you personally for everything you say, but I probably shouldn't.

    It was a joke, from the beginning. You see, I was using an ad hominum, just as you suspected. But I was doing so to be funny, not because I'm a "turkey-stuffer." (That reference, I have to admit, was lost on me.)
       65. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 19, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603683)

    Look Voros, you can prove anything with your fancy-schmancy "logic" and communicate it effectively and entertainingly with your "sarcasm." However, because you never were the president of a debating team, there is no way you know what you're talking about. So, spin all of the "well crafted, witty, and incisive" articles you'd like; I'd rather hear about this subject from someone who's been there in the rhetorical trenches.

    Or Ray Knight, if he's available.
       66. Kevin Harlow Posted: April 19, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603689)
    Assuming 8.75 Outs/Game over a 162 game season, that is 4253 outs. A .426 OBP requires getting on base 3156 times, for a total of 7409 PA. In order to satisfy the simultaneous constraints of a .290 BA and a .426 OBP, there must be 1420 BB and 1736 Hits, for a total of 5989 AB. This gives a total of 5989*.426*.425*1.035 = 1122 runs per 162 games, or 1067 runs per 154 games.
       67. Craig Calcaterra Posted: April 20, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603692)


    I see, you're trying to trick me with one of those underhanded tactics Voros warned me about. How to counter, how to counter......(Ah-ha!) No, I'm only saying that Derek Bell, were a memeber of a debate team, would be able to write a better column because he's a proven veteren. Or something.

    (How was that Voros?)
       68. Fadeaway: The Baseball History Podcast Posted: April 24, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603700)
    Another thing about Belle I forgot to mention in the story: My friend Larry Lester tells me that in 1994, when SABR published "The Negro Leagues Book," a comprehensive historical record of the Negro Leagues, Belle paid for copies of the book to be sent free of charge to every living Negro League player. No publicity, no fanfare, just a simple good deed.
       69. Tom Austin Posted: April 25, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603709)
    Great article, Don. Especially enjoyed the comments on the thoracic outlet.

    Although I was disappointed that the article, and I presume the book, fails to explain why -I- can't hit. Or given me some exercises to reduce my reaction time and increase my bat speed. And while I'm at it, shave a few minutes off my home-to-first speed.
       70. Doug Drinen Posted: April 26, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603713)
    Eric, how is the actual baseball in the film? I find
    baseball movies (all sports movies actually) totally unwatchable because
    the baseball is so bad in them.

    I've heard that this is changing, though. I haven't seen it, but
    I've heard people say good things about
    the baseball scenes in Costner's "For the Love of the Game," for
    example. Might there come a time when the on-field scenes don't
    ruin the whole movie for me?
       71. Fadeaway: The Baseball History Podcast Posted: April 26, 2001 at 12:04 AM (#603715)
    Doug, the baseball isn't bad, but it's not wonderful either. Thomas Jane has freely admitted that he lied about being a good ballplayer in order to get the part as Mickey Mantle. He throws like a girl, no offense to any female ballplayers out there. The baseball doesn't look ludicrous, though. Tom Candiotti plays Hoyt Wilhelm, and he's a pretty fair ballplayer for an actor. Jane and Pepper actually imitate the M&M swings pretty well, but they're helped by the fact that in the middle of just about every swing, the camera cuts to a close-up on the player -- so even if they were bad swings, it would be pretty hard to tell.
       72. Cris E Posted: April 27, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603723)
    The local guy here reviewed it and thought it was pretty well done,
    though he caught one factual error in his screening. ( "Opening Day
    1961. It's in Yankee Stadium and it's against the Twins, freshly
    moved from Washington, D.C., in their very first game...
    Crystal and Steinberg have Camilo Pascual on the mound." Should have been
    Camillo Pascual. Not a big deal.)

    He also says "Former Red Sox and Dodgers player Reggie Smith schooled both
    actors, and even taught the right-handed Pepper how to swing

    It's also worth noting that The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg will
    be on Cinemax 6:30 Sunday (repeated 5/8 and 5/23) for anyone who missed
    it during its limited theater run.

    All this came from Brian Lambert's piece in the St Paul Pioneer Press
       73. Fadeaway: The Baseball History Podcast Posted: April 28, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603725)
    I find Donald's comment that I "damaged" my review by revealing my status as a Yankee-hater. We all have biases and points of view, and I decided to put that at the beginning so people would know where I was coming from, and take it with a grain of salt if they choose.

    Anyway, even more amusing is the implication of Donald's comment -- that Yankee fans' attention spans are so short that they can't even make it past the first couple of sentences.
       74. Voros McCracken Posted: May 02, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603733)
    Well, it appears that on the origin of the quote we are both kind of
    right. Though I would venture to say that I am more right than you
    are, since I'm a respected baseball journalist. :)

    Seriously, here'a link that sufficiently explains our diverging opinions
    on the matter:

    It appears that the quote appeared in Mark Twain's autobiography, but Twain
    himself attributed the quote to Disraeli. So either:

    1. Disraeli said it, or
    2. Twain made it up and attached it to Disraeli for literary purposes.

    Either are plausible, I suppose, so we'll have to call this a draw.
       75. scruff Posted: May 03, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603736)
    As far as the debate over character for the Hall of Fame goes, I would like to concur with those that have serious issues with this. This part of the system is seriously corrupt. You have people who rely on these players to put food on their own tables and you ask THEM to make a character assessment? That is a joke. I don't give a damn what Jack Lang and Jayson Stark and Dan Patrick (I know he doesn't have a vote) think of Albert Belle's character. Since the "character" issue is applied so randomly in my opinion it is useless.

    Bill James once wrote about this, saying that selectively enforced laws are extremely dangerous for a society. Because everyone breaks them from time to time, so when you do something they don't like, they can nail you. The Nazi's used similar techniques. No one has perfect character. Everyone has their flaws. But if one of them happens to be being surly to the media, they'll nail you when they get the chance. Just look at what they did to Maris. The media had the public thinking HE was a jerk.

    In effect all the Hall of Fame's moronic, short-sighted rule does is say, if you are a borderline candidate, you had better have been a good interview. That's a joke. The Hall of Fame election process is so seriously flawed that it has become a joke to many people. The "character" issue is just one more example of that. These guys are BASEBALL PLAYERS. For them to be judged for anything else is simply not right.
       76. Fadeaway: The Baseball History Podcast Posted: May 04, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603741)
    Don, good story, but I think I would take exception to the characterization of Willie Davis as a "suspect hitter." As we all know, he played in a low-offense era, and his career adjusted OPS was better than league average. As Bill James wrote in the Historical Abstract, "Davis' statistics are really unfair, since he played in a terrible hitter's park at a time when batting averages all over were at a fifty-year low. Davis would have been a consistent .300 hitter in the seventies."
       77. scruff Posted: May 04, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603742)
    We preach sportsmanship at the high school level because you are teaching kids right from wrong. I'm with Barkley on this one. Let the parents be the role models. When you get the big leagues, W's and L's are what matter. Don't get me wrong, when a big leaguer screws up, you hold that up as an example for a high school kid of what not to do. But to use that in judgement of a player is ludicrous in my opinion, unless it impacts the bottom line, W's and L's.

    As for the character clause being there in black and white, so what? What you are essentially saying is, "my driver, drunk or sober." I don't just blindly follow what they wrote into the rules 65 years ago. I'm for changing the rules. The football Hall of Fame doesn't have a character clause, if I remember correctly. I'm, not saying we shouldn't have the clause because sportsmanship and integrity don't matter. I'm saying it because there is no way to quantify it's effect on W's and L's, and leaving it to the subjective judgement of biased writers isn't fair in my opinion. What make them experts on a player's character? I wouldn't even say they are experts on the game half the time, but that's another argument.
       78. don malcolm Posted: May 05, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603746)
    Thanks for the info on Kasko--something, of course, that I could have
    looked up for myself if I hadn't been in too much of a hurry.

    The '57 Cards were an interesting team in a lot of ways. It was Fred
    Hutchinson's second year there, and he was trying to shake off the
    torpor enveloping the franchise that had been so strong a force
    in the forties. Veteran hitters, as is so often the case, were being
    brought in (Al Dark had been acquired mid-way through '56, and Del
    Ennis came over for '57). Lindy McDaniel was moved into the starting
    rotation, and his 18-year old brother Von soon followed, becoming an
    overnight sensation. Late in July, the Cards were battling with the
    Milwaukee Braves for first place, but it was too much of a stretch
    for a team without pitchers to compete with Spahn, Burdette and Bob
    Buhl. They wound up in second place, eight games back.

    Both oldsters and youngsters collapsed for the Cards in '58, and
    Hutchinson was let go. He resurfaced in the middle of '59 with the
    Reds, and won a pennant for them in 1961 in part because he turned
    around the career of a promising but erratic ex-Braves farmhand named
    Joey Jay.

    A couple of other notes. First, Eric is right to note that Willie
    Davis is not quite in the offensive nether-regions occupied by Doc
    Cramer. However, his OPS+ is ninth on the list of top ten CFs by
    game, and I don't think there's any other player in history who
    had a column written about his pathological inability to keep the
    bat on his shoulders (one of LA Times' columnist Jim Murray's
    greatest performances, with Willie visiting his shrink and remaining
    defiantly in denial of his permanent "don't walk" sign).

    Second, I misspoke about the exact nature of the changes in TB VII,
    as was pointed out to me via an email from one of the TB team. There
    are no real changes in the statistical presentations for players;
    what's been excised are the extra pages of yearly summaries that
    were added in TB VI. That also includes the more detailed roster
    information that appeared on those pages.
       79. Don Malcolm Posted: May 05, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603747)
    One more clarification about TB VII's player register. A raw OPS
    value has been added to the hitter data, and what was formerly called
    PRO+ is now titled "OPS+". Also, TB's signature linear weights
    measure for hitters, batting runs, has had its abbreviation modified
    from "BR/A" to "BR+".

    Finally, and far more significant than either of these two items, the
    ultimate TB measure, Total Player Rating (TPR), has been revised to
    operate based on eras rather than three-year moving averages, and
    has also been modified to encompass the more detailed LF-CF-RF
    fielding information that's now available. As a result, CFers tend
    to have higher TPRs due to this adjustment, and corner outfielders
    tend be a bit lower. The era adjustment has had a universal effect
    on the TRP rankings, as a comparison of those lists between TB VI
    and TB VII will demonstrate.
       80. don malcolm Posted: May 09, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603751)
    One more correction, thanks to another reader. The top ten list for
    most games played in center field is missing one member, and a member
    who has some impact on Willie Davis' placement in the offensive

    Paul Blair played 1801 games in center, and thus should rank ninth
    on the list, with Edd Roush dropping to tenth and Mickey Mantle to
    eleventh. Blair's lifetime OPS+ (PRO+ for those of you still without
    TB VII...) is 98, which ranks him ninth on the list in that category
    as well. Willie Davis, at 106, moves up to eighth.
       81. Voros McCracken Posted: May 11, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603755)

    That is generally the correct sequence of events:

    1. I wrote something off-hand about the hubub people make about
    60 at bat samples on my website.

    2. Someone mentioned it on rsbb as to whether it was an "axiom"
    or not. This was last year (2000) not this.

    3. The group decided that this was more of a "law" type thing than an
    "axiom." So "law" it became.

    There's a link to the discussion in the article above, though it was
    typed slightly wrong so you have to click a link to get at it.
       82. Doug Drinen Posted: May 13, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603759)
    My impression was that Voros semi-facetiously named it "Voros' Axiom" because he had become rsbb's unofficial watchdog against shaky, small-sample-based claims. Only after reading Will's comment did it occur to me that naming it after himself sounds a little fishy. In the context of how the name arose (or at least my recollection of it), however, I don't think Voros was displaying any unnecessary arrogance.

    Just my two cents.
       83. Colin Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603762)
    There are people here in Columbus, Ohio, who are pushing for a new stadium for the Clippers. Principally, I think, because the neighborhood the current park is in isn't all that great (but also not that bad).

    So they're pushing to try and get a new one built closer to downtown (instead of five minutes away). I suspect they want taxpayer funding, though I haven't followed it that closely, but Columbus rejected taxpayer funding for an NHL arena, and that got privately funded instead
       84. Colin Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603763)
    Has anything been said about the actual cost of contraction - how much money would need to be reimbursed to the owners whose teams would evaporate? Seems like it would be a huge amount of cash, given how much MLB has been charging for franchise feees in recent expansions, and I just don't see Bud's brewers forking over their $10-20m share of that cost for two teams.
       85. Chris Dial Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603764)
    TPR includes defense, and Hernandez scores very well in that department.
    My work with defense indicates that a really great season of fielding
    by a first baseman will result in about 15 runs saved above average.
    This does not include special abilities such as scooping, nor cutting
    down the lead runner on an attempted sacrifice (Hernandez' reported specialty).

    In Keith's career, I'd figure him to be really close to 100 runs above
    average defensively. As for using his RF, well, that's junk. He had
    more chances than everybody else (or he may have).

    Should he be in the HoF? I haven't examined all the data enough, but
    his work on "Seinfeld" should count for something.
       86. Paul Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603765)
    You may be missing the point, Don... the quality of play would improve
    with the removal of four teams (or even two), because with a re-entry
    draft, those teams' players would go to teams that still exist, creating
    more depth and over all quality. Adding more teams, as you suggest,
    would be a death-knell for the game itself, even supposing they would
    be financially viable, which is doubtful. Consider-- what exactly is
    "viable"? The ability to exist, or the ability to compete (substitute
    "willingness" if you prefer; the meaning is the same)? Really, though,
    I am past all hope that Bud Selig will ever do anything actually logical
    or good; I am in favor of contraction because I want to see what would
       87. scruff Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603768)
    I've posted similar comments to these on the blogs, but they seem pretty relevant here.

    If I'm in DC (I am) or Buffalo or Indianapolis or Charlotte or Sacramento, I'd be really, really ticked off that there is talk of contraction when there are many viable untapped markets which could support a baseball team in this country. Not to mention Mexico City.

    Paul, did you see the Sports Reporters on ESPN yesterday? Bob Ryan got on his high Puritan, New England horse and started talking about how "every city doesn't need a baseball team" and there are too many teams already. He talked about how contraction would fix the dilution caused by expansion. Real easy for you say Bob/Paul, your beloved Red Sox/whoever aren't going anywhere, but other inferior towns should learn to do without? That is a very pompus elitist attitude to have.

    Don, while I too think 32 teams would be ideal, I completely disagree with putting a team in Jersey. I guess you are from SF, I don't know if you get to the East coast often. North Jersey is still too close to NY, just look at the lack of support for the Devils. I've lived in Soprano's country and worked in Newark, and people there talk more about a sub-.500 Ranger team than a Stanley Cup Champion Devils squad. There are too many viable areas that don't have a team (Buffalo, Charlotte, DC, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Nashville to name a few) to give NY/NJ or LA/Anaheim a 3rd team. South Jersey is just a suburb of Philadelphia, I'll bet Flyer fans outnumber Devil fans 20-1 in South Jersey. I'm not exagerrating. Jersey should be considered wasteland for expansion. They are too loyal to NY/PHI to adopt their own team, as the Devils/Nets prove every night. Besides there is no place in NJ that you are more than an hour an 15 minutes away from a major league ballpark (either Philly or NY). Let's expand/move to areas that don't already have easy access to the majors.

    From the way it looks, Buffalo is a much more viable place to put a baseball team than Tampa, the Devil Rays should have been the Buffalo Bisons. We wouldn't even be talking about them if baseball had made the right call in awarding that franchise. That being said, I have a hard time knocking a city until their team has been competitive though. I think Tampa should be given a chance until they prove they won't support a competitive team. Very few cities support uncompetitive teams WITH tradition. Tampa doesn't even have that to fall back on.

       88. Cris E Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603771)
    This is weird: I posted a lot of this same sentiment over in a different
    thread earlier today, and here comes Don saying many of the same things. Well,
    aside from the quest for 32 teams I agree with pretty much everything.

    I recently came across an old piece someone wrote years ago about the coming
    re-org. It's hopelessly out of date now ("now that AZ has been given a
    franchise...") there's a great idea in it: two leagues, two divisions of
    eight, with the original 16 making up two of the divisions and the expansion
    clubs fliling the other two. I thought it was a great idea. (Of course, this
    guy went on to propose that these comprise one league and that the new clubs
    form the other. Traditional baseball can keep being played in one league,
    and the new guys can play with colored balls, designated runners, and any
    other blame fool ideas they want. I wasn't ready to follow him there.)

    About the expansion/relocations: OK, scruff says NJ is out. I think that
    NY could support a third team and maybe should just to split the revenue
    a little bit but I don't live there. About his other suggestions: whatever,
    they'll probably work. Moves like this are predicated on revenue sharing
    that would make a lot of cities viable. Green Bay may not work, but a rich guy
    like Paul Allen in city like Portland might be a good example of team #31. There
    are others and the specifics are not important.

    The real problem here is getting a bunch of owners to agree on ironing out a
    revenue distribution problem that will let everyone share while still letting
    the successful teams see material gain from winning. These guys are all
    fairly successful businessmen the rest of the week, so it seems like a
    surmountable problem. Unfortunately once the ego and identity get wrapped
    up in the management of the business lots of goofy things start to happen.
       89. Voros McCracken Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603774)

    It's a good point that this is a rather simple idea, but one thing
    about this point is that logice often flies out the window when a
    player on your favorite team (or worse your fantasy team) goes on
    an unexpected tear or in an unexpected slump. Imagine my torment as
    I ponder the future of my fantasy team with Doug Mientkiewicz.

    The point is that the sharpest baseball minds I know violate this
    principle because it's impossible to avoid violating unless you have
    a hard and fast rule against it in your mind. People who violate it
    often know better, but let their emotions get the best of them.
       90. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603775)
    For a change, I agree with everything Don wrote... and I disagree with most of the replies posted here.

    1) I don't think there's a god given right to a major league team, and if scruff wants to (inaccurately) term it elitist, well, I accept the label gladly. I don't see people arguing that Troy ought to get a team again. If a town doesn't support a team, it doesn't deserve it.

    2) The level of play argument is a bizarre one. The level of play is as high as it has ever been in history, and you'd never notice the difference between 28 and 30 and 32 teams just by following the sport.

    3) I live in NJ too, and a team could easily be supported here IMO. Comparisons to hockey don't contribute much to the discussion, because nobody watches hockey. It's an unpopular fringe sport. New York could support three teams 50 years ago; I think it can support three teams now. I think it could support four teams now. New Jerseyans could use a team whose games they could drive to, attend and get home at a reasonable hour. And there's plenty of television stations in NY. And this would have the added benefit of cutting into Yankee revenues, bringing them back to the pack somewhat without simply handing their revenues to badly-run teams.

    4) As for expansion teams being a disaster, let's leave the spin to Bud Selig.
       91. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603776)
    Richard's comparison of Hernandez to other 1Bs on the basis of "outs per game"
    (RF) is flawed, in that it doesn't take into consideration the possibility that a
    number of Hernandez's extra outs were the result of extra ground balls allowed
    by his pitchers. We have play-by-play data available from Retrosheet from 1978-1990,
    which covers the bulk of Hernandez's career, so it is possible to determine the
    extent of this effect. We can also look at the effect Hernandez may have had in
    cutting down the lead runner on a sacrifice, and I think we can even get a handle
    on the extent to which Hernandez may have affected infielder throwing (see Matt
    Welch's article on Mo Vaughn at the SportsJones Web site).

    I think 1B defense is underrated by traditional defensive methods, because of
    the underlying assumption by analysts that many plays are just routine catches.
    But one 1B can make a non-routine play look routine, and another can make a
    routine play look non-routine (by being slow to the base, or having poor
    footwork or poor positioning around the base). I have no idea how significant
    these effects might be - yet.

    -- MWE
       92. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603777)
    I guarantee you that the Yankees will help the Clippers' current
    ownership, by threatening to pull their affiliation. The Bronx Bombers
    have pulled the same stunt in Greensboro, which plays in antiquated
    War Memorial Stadium (quite possibly the worst minor league facility
    going). Basically, the Yanks forced the sale of the team to local
    owners a year ago by threatening to pull their affiliation, because
    the city basically said "No (expletive) way" to the previous
    ownership's "request" for a new facility. One of the new guys owns
    land near Greensboro Coliseum which he has "generously" offered for
    a new ballpark - if the city pays for the facility.

    -- MWE

       93. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 14, 2001 at 12:05 AM (#603778)
    As a followup to my earlier post:

    The Cardinals of Hernandez's early years had a staff that was above
    league norms in allowing ground balls. In 1982, for example, they
    had the fourth highest ratio of assists on balls fielded by infielders
    to putouts on balls fielded by outfielders (data from Retrosheet).
    By contrast, the Mets were below league norms during Keith's years with
    them; in 1986 they ranked fourth from the bottom in the above ratio.

    I distinguish between "assists on balls fielded by infielders" and
    "infield assists", although the assists infielders pick up on other
    plays is probably a relatively small total. The estimator (InfA)/(OFPO)
    tracks ground ball/fly ball ratio pretty closely.

    -- MWE
       94. scruff Posted: May 15, 2001 at 12:06 AM (#603783)
    Vic, from what I understand, Pilot Field could easily be expanded to hold mid-30s to low 40's which is basically the capacity of most of the new stadiums. I think PNC Park is under 40,000, most of the others are a little over 40,000. In DC RFK could be used until and appropriate park is built, they've played there before. I'm sure the Hoosier Dome would be fine for Indy or the Superdome in New Orleans until an appropriate baseball stadium could be built. What about old Tulane Stadium, where they used to play the Sugar Bowl? Erickson Stadium would work in Charlotte. The Rockies played in a football stadium for a couple of years, as did the Dodgers. The Giants made it work for 40+ years. I know the Marlins complain about their park, but it's not a terrible baseball stadium, it's got a cool scoreboard and funky dimensions.

    If you put teams in these cities, baseball would be extremely viable. You could move the Expos to DC. Tampa Bay to New Orleans. Expand to Buffalo and Charlotte. You could go with either four 8-team divisions, or eight 4-team divisions. No wild card needed, just 8 division champions. Pennant races return. Eliminate the DH in exchange for 50 more jobs, how could the union refuse? Talent is not diluted at all right now (expansion washes out in 3-4 years tops), but eliminating the DH would help if you think it is, rather than keeping baseball out of 4 very viable markets. Pitching is PERCEIVED to be worse because almost every new park has been constructed as a hitter's park. Build pitcher's parks in the new towns, and you'd fix that perception, along with the new strike zone. Besides, it's easier to build a winner in a pitcher's park anyway, just ask the Cubs and Red Sox and Rockies how hard it is to assemble a decent pitching staff, without Clemens or Pedro. This would give the expansion teams slightly better shot at being more competitive.
       95. jeff angus Posted: May 15, 2001 at 12:06 AM (#603786)
    Don Malcolm's article points out many of the logical challenges to the business of baseball in an attempt to achieve 'contraction'.

    There's another, more challenging, one, a 'tragedy of the commons'...that is, what's best for each individual owner as a profit-making enterprise is not what's best for the business-as-a-whole.

    The enemy is The Dismal Pseudoscience, accounting, a terrible weakness in contemporary business. It can measure about 40% of the value of things, and because accounting CAN'T measure the value of certain things, it pretends they have no economic value. Let's apply this to re-location for a moment.
    Folk have suggested re-location to places like Buffalo (Metro area population, about 1.1 MM), Charlotte (Metro area population: about 1.3 MM) and Sacramento (Metro area population: about 1.3 MM). Good cities for minor league baseball, but none of them have a history of incredible support for baseball.

    What about Santo Domingo, Domincan Republic (Metro area population: about 2 MM) or San Juan, Puerto Rico (Metro area population: about 1.8 MM)? Havana, Cuba (Metro area population: about 2.4 MM)? Passionate about baseball. Great investment in the future (stoke up youth interest in a poverty zone, which means a powerful gravitational field that tugs youngsters into pursuit of a playing career. A good place to add to April and September schedules to reduce freeze-out games. BTW: Mexico City has the population, but environmental factors push against it....high altitude, air pollution worse than Washington DC, incredible poverty rate even compared to those other three cities and that's been skyrocketing since the NAFTA, crime rate spiraling up steadily.

    The shortcomings are all in the dismal pseudoscience areas -- the accounting just doesn't 'make'. Economically poor fan base (lower average ticket price, lower concession revenues), fewer luxury boxes,less local broadcast revenue. On the hidden side of the ledger is weather and passion and mulching the fields for amplified player development. And passion. But it would require valuing the good of the overall-business against the net-present-value of dollars they could invest in other, only fully-measureable, things.

    Accounting isn't just the death of the romantic ideal of baseball, it's the asphyxiation of the actual business, too.

    To repeat an idea posted earlier, one high-probability correlate of people going to the park is a competitive team, so expanding to 32, and having a first- and second division scheme, as in world soccer leagues, increases the difference between the 30th percentile team and the 99th percentile team. I think that's the best (yes, imperfect) solution I've heard
       96. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: May 15, 2001 at 12:06 AM (#603788)
    If I ran the zoo...

    I'd outlaw the farm systems and limit rosters to 40 contracts TOTAL. The minors would thrive in the cities that would support baseball and the ability for a big-league club to find a proven player to improve the team would be a lot easier. And it would probably reduce the fear that makes teams sign the Derek Bell's of the world to multi-year contracts because the replacement is that much easier to get.

    If a market shows enough attendance, they can "graduate" to the next level when expansion time comes. And if your team can't compete at that level anymore, you are SOL.
       97. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 15, 2001 at 12:06 AM (#603789)

    The point I was making was that - IN GENERAL - the ratio of
    a team's infield assists to outfield putouts tracks the ratio
    of ground balls allowed to fly balls allowed. The factors you
    cite affect that ratio to some extent, but the largest single
    factor in that ratio is the pitcher. A Scott Erickson will
    consistently allow 2-2.5 ground balls for every fly ball; a
    Sid Fernandez will consistently allow around 2 fly balls for
    every ground ball. A group of infielders who play behind Erickson
    will routinely have higher assist totals than those who play
    behind Sid, no matter how good (or poor) they are. The difference
    is that Erickson will allow more hits if his infielders are
    poor than will Fernandez.

    I've looked at this enough to know that team with a high ratio
    of infield assists to outfield putouts will NOT allow more fly balls
    than the norm, and vice versa. It's not a perfect correlation, but
    it's strong enough to be a reliable indicator.

    -- MWE
       98. Rich Rifkin I Posted: May 15, 2001 at 12:06 AM (#603790)
    Regarding the viability of Sacramento as a baseball market, some of the above comments are mistaken. The population of the Sacramento MSA (Metropolitain Statistical Area), according to the 2000 Census, is just over 1.8 million people. There are well more than 2.5 million people who live within 45 miles of Sacramento, but many of those extra 700,000 people live nearer to Oakland, than they do the state capital.

    I have no doubt that Sacramento could support a major league baseball team, in terms of drawing fans to the games. The Sacramento River Cats (AAA) average about 11,000 fans per game, which is well-more than many major league teams have averaged in the past. With a major league stadium, I believe Sacramento could draw 20-25,000 fans per game. Unlike the Bay Area, Sacramento is a good sports market, especially inclined to love baseball. Huge numbers of major leaguers have grown up in Sacramento, including both of last year's Managers of the Year, Dusty Baker and Jerry Manuel.

    However, for two different reasons, Sacramento is not a good expansion market: 1) there are no major corporate businesses headquartered here or nearby. We have ZERO Fortune 500 companies, here. Sacramento is a government town, not a commericial city. And that means that selling luxury boxes and attracting corporate sponsorship is very difficult, if not impossible; and 2) without TV and radio revenue-sharing, being the 23rd largest media market in the nation guarantees that a Sacramento-based team will be greatly handicapped in competing for free agents.

    As I said in Sean Forman's Blog on this same topic, the problem is too little revenue in some of the smaller markets, and the obvious answer is a rational distribution of all TV, radio and gate revenues.
       99. Tangotiger Posted: May 15, 2001 at 12:06 AM (#603792)
    I agree that having a "premier league", "division 1", etc, like in European soccer is the best scheme. You put 12 or 16 or 20 teams in each division, and then have the bottom 2 and top 2 of the lower division go into a "playoff" to see who should go/remain in the premier division. You can seed them initially by revenue generated. Teams in lower divisions would always be able to "sell transfer rights" to teams in the higher divisions, etc. You get competitive teams, and eventually, most of the talented players mushroom to the premier league.

    But, nah, let's talk about less baseball. Let's start removing teams, because fans won't support 25$/ticket seats.
       100. Rich Rifkin I Posted: May 15, 2001 at 12:06 AM (#603793)
    You cite the success story in Sacramento as being a best case scenario, in terms of the uncontrolable factors: quality team, winning record, and lots of good prospects. I would agree with that. However, it's interesting that the new ballpark in Sacramento, Raley Field (named for a small grocery store chain in Nortern California with its headquarters 2 blocks from the ballpark), is not in fact in Sacramento.

    For years, the promoters of downtown Sacramento cried that its downtown needed a ballpark, a convention center, and all of those other investments which pay off big only for those who build them. But due to the expense of land in Sacramento, Raley Field was built in a nearby city, across the Sacramento River, in a different county, called West Sacramento (famous for being the hometown of Steve Sax.) West Sac has a few middle class neighborhoods. But for the most part, it is a ghetto, filled with run-down homes, Section 8 apartments, old motels, hookers, drug-addicts and recently arrived immigrants. Not exactly a destination city.

    Raley Field is a really nice ballpark for the minor leagues. It is very close to the Sacramento River and it offers great views at night of the skyscrapers of Sacramento and a beautiful old bridge which links West Sac with the Capital city. Because it was built entirely with private funds (save some tax breaks), I think it could serve as a good model for other cities that want a new minor league park. However, perhaps because the owners of the River Cats paid for the stadium, the ticket prices and concessions at Raley Field are not cheap. It's often cheaper for me to go to an A's game in Oakland.

    Whether the River Cats will continue to be a big draw into the future is unknown. But I would agree that a lack of success on the field, a lack of good prospects, and eventually an aging facility will test the long-term profitabitity of the Sacramento model.
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