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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Baseball Question of the Day: What is your least-popular baseball opinion?

Another day of no baseball news, another conversation-starter question by your descending-into-increasing-madness blogger-in-chief. No, really, I’m fine. Having my wife working six feet from me after a decade of workplace solitude, all while playing her playlist of 80s slow jams is totally fine. I mean, not gonna lie, I like a lot of the jams, but I feel like her loudly singing along to Basia’s “Time and Tide” is . . . a bit much.

Not that I’m some prize to be quarantined with. We’re all doing the best we can.

Anyway, the question: What’s your least-popular baseball opinion?

Before you answer, know that anything having to do with the DH doesn’t qualify. People feel very passionately about the DH and will tell you that you are the antichrist for thinking about it the way you do, but for each position you take on it, you have a few million people on your side. You all have quite popular ideas about the DH, in fact. It’s just that anyone who doesn’t share it hates it. That’s not what I’m after. I want something more singular.

I’ll go first:

A lot of the people who shout about “timelining” strike me as exceedingly presentist in their outlooks, and one could use certain aspects of their arguments to claim that the 1980s, not the present time, would be the peak for baseball- which should be enough to give one pause with the concept…..

 

QLE Posted: March 25, 2020 at 12:38 AM | 142 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: opinions are like

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   101. Howie Menckel Posted: March 26, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5933781)
bump
   102. Howie Menckel Posted: March 26, 2020 at 02:25 PM (#5933782)
third team in NY

you misspelled NJ!
   103. Ron J Posted: March 26, 2020 at 02:38 PM (#5933786)
#100 Sure. There are lots of people who hold opinions that are logically inconstant. What you're talking about isn't particularly egregious.
   104. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 26, 2020 at 04:01 PM (#5933825)
A lot of guys have gotten exceptions to take banned medications. I absolutely think that 80% of batters would suddenly feign dust in their eye multiple times per AB if it was the only way they could get time granted.

Add a rule that if you do it more than 2 times, you're required to wear Chris Sabo goggles for the rest of the game.
   105. villageidiom Posted: March 26, 2020 at 04:13 PM (#5933830)
Add a rule that if you do it more than 2 times, you're required to wear Chris Sabo goggles for the rest of the game.
I don't think that would stop them from requesting time.
   106. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 26, 2020 at 05:27 PM (#5933845)
3) If the pitcher throws over Z times (I suggest Z=3) during an at-bat without getting the runner, he gets charged a ball for each subsequent throw over. There have to be consequences to wasting time. This will also make speed more valuable again.

Bill James suggested a variation on this in the NHBA - I think his version was one unsuccessful pickoff throw per inning, every unsuccessful throw after that is a ball. This would both quit wasting everyone's time, and make it easier to steal bases, which is exciting. Win/win.
   107. SoSH U at work Posted: March 26, 2020 at 05:28 PM (#5933847)
I hate the idea that pickoff throws are wastes of time.

   108. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 26, 2020 at 06:18 PM (#5933857)
Baseball stadiums should not be viewed by cities as economic development engines and should not "require" millions of public dollars to be built.

Maybe not an unpopular opinion here, but sure the hell is where I live in a city of 200,000 that has written half a billion dollars in checks using public money to go all in on just about every sport played professionally in the United States.
   109. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 26, 2020 at 06:35 PM (#5933859)
Tom H...Walter Johnson overrated?
...
Good luck getting a hit


I don't know that I'd co-sign Walter Johnson being overrated but I definitely think he's one of the inner circle HoFers whose success would translate less to the current game. As a sidearmer, he had pretty extreme platoon splits that I think teams could exploit by stacking LHB's against him as more detailed platoon stats became more widely available. Plus, no manager is going to let him go much beyond 200 innings a season any more... much less 350+!

I wrote a script to parse the Retrosheet box score files and estimate platoon splits for both hitters and pitchers, and Johnson is quite extreme. I haven't updated this (yet) with the pbp data Retrosheet has published from 1918-1927 but just from the box scores it looks like Johnson destroyed RHB's to the tune of .203/.241/.264 over his entire career but LHB's hit him at a .255/.324/.344 clip.
   110. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 26, 2020 at 07:35 PM (#5933870)
I hate the idea that pickoff throws are wastes of time.

Depends on the pickoff throw. Actual close plays are great, but a solid number of them have minimal chances of resulting in an out, and are just made to keep the runner slightly closer to the base than he would be otherwise. And the close plays might actually be more common if unsuccessful pickoffs were penalized, because runners would take bigger leads.

Either way, though, it's the unpopular opinions thread, so...
   111. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 26, 2020 at 07:43 PM (#5933871)
If there was a way to distinguish “sincere” pickoff attempts from “let me throw to first because I don’t want to throw a pitch” pickoff attempts, then I’d punish the latter.

Also, if you step off to move the runner back to the bag, you have to throw the ball. The pitcher should take on risk.
   112. Howie Menckel Posted: March 26, 2020 at 08:45 PM (#5933883)
“let me throw to first because I don’t want to throw a pitch” pickoff attempts

looking at YOU, Steve Trachsel!

when he was on the Mets, the home crowd would BOO him vociferously after the first "pickoff throw" per runner because they knew there were plenty more to come.
   113. CFBF's Overflowing Pathos Posted: March 26, 2020 at 08:59 PM (#5933887)
I guess my unpopular opinion is that the actual game of baseball is...fine? Aspects of modern baseball that people don't like will mostly work themselves out in the game's natural pendulum swings, and there's no need for dramatic rule changes that are mostly aimed at enshrining the proposer's (perfectly fair) personal preferences as law of the land.
   114. Buck Coats Posted: March 26, 2020 at 09:07 PM (#5933889)
I don't think Mariano Rivera is a HOFer
   115. Booey Posted: March 27, 2020 at 11:42 AM (#5934023)
As I said in the Pos Top 100 thread, I don't care that batting average is overrated as a value stat. It's super fun and the game is poorer now that players don't care about it.

(Ditto with pitcher wins, RBI, and stolen bases)
   116. Tim M Posted: March 27, 2020 at 12:52 PM (#5934067)
The overall goal of "make there be a price for wasting time" is a great one. The pitch clock (a really fast one, 20 sec is way too long) is the most obvious, but it could permeate the game in many other ways.

Throws to first are the worst, especially in a tense situation. How many times can I get excited about the next pitch, only to be deflated when it doesn't happen..

Fouls with 2 strikes suck as well for the same reason, so they should be limited to 3. The count will have 3 numbers - a 3-2-2 count means the batter has used up both "free" fouls, and the next one is strike three. THAT would be an exciting pitch!
   117. Tim M Posted: March 27, 2020 at 12:54 PM (#5934068)
I don't think Mariano Rivera is a HOFer


That opinion is unpopular with exactly 100% of HOF voters :) Not with me though, I think countless flamed-out forgotten starters could have had Mariano's career if they had been so used.
   118. SoSH U at work Posted: March 27, 2020 at 01:13 PM (#5934078)
That opinion is unpopular with exactly 100% of HOF voters :) Not with me though, I think countless flamed-out forgotten starters could have had Mariano's career if they had been so used.


Pretty much every reliever is a flamed-out starter. No one else had Mariano's career.
   119. PreservedFish Posted: March 27, 2020 at 01:30 PM (#5934087)
The real question is whether or not countless average starter types - the guys that did not flame out and did not get tried in the pen, but also didn't add all that much value in the rotation - could have had Mariano's career. I really doubt it, but we don't know.
   120. Jaack Posted: March 27, 2020 at 01:54 PM (#5934097)
John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley were great starters, who became Rivera-ish relievers, although for less time than Rivera.

I can't think of any Jason Marquis-level pitcher becoming a great reliever for more than a couple of years. The two examples that popped into my head were Wade Davis and, for some reason Dustin Hermanson, both of whom had some success in the bullpen, but neither was able to sustain it for very long.

The key to Rivera is that he did it for so long. The fact that no one has come close points to him being unique.
   121. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:07 PM (#5934103)
Ryan Dempster was a bad starter for several years, then a good reliever for two years, then a pretty bad reliever for two years, then a generally good starter for five years. Strange trajectory.
   122. Blastin Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:14 PM (#5934113)
although for less time than Rivera.


That's literally it.

I remember the early 2000s. Sasaki was better. Then he wasn't.

Nathan was better. Then he wasn't.

Papelbon was better. Then he wasn't.

And so on. If anyone could do it, then they'll do it. And at that point, they'll also be in the HOF unless and until it's done many times and then the bar will rise.

Look at Kimbrel. Rivera never dipped as far as he has recently. I thought K-Rod would outlast him. He did not. Chapman will not.
   123. Tim M Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:19 PM (#5934115)
I think lots of guys like Kerry Wood or Mark Prior could have had careers like Mariano. Not all, obviously , but some. Yes their arm needs to hold up for 20 years, that's the hard part, but I am guessing enough guys could do it that it wouldn't be Hall-worthy.

They would need electric stuff at a bare minimum, so Jason Marquis need not apply.
   124. pikepredator Posted: March 27, 2020 at 02:36 PM (#5934125)
This applies to baseball and basically any sport: I would love a simple, still camera feed for most of the game, with only crowd noise. No announcers and minimal camera switches. For football, an overhead cam that shows most of the field. For baseball, maybe something from the press box area, above and behind home plate. I love watching the overall player movement - particularly in football - and love the crowd noise and bat crack/glove pop sounds of baseball. Close-ups and announcers get in the way of that.

That said, for baseball on the radio (my favorite way to consume baseball if it's not a live setting), I would prefer to retain announcers.
   125. SoSH U at work Posted: March 27, 2020 at 03:00 PM (#5934141)
That said, for baseball on the radio (my favorite way to consume baseball if it's not a live setting), I would prefer to retain announcers.


Crowd-noise only might be a problem there.

   126. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 27, 2020 at 03:09 PM (#5934147)

I don't think that would stop them from requesting time.

In case this part of my proposal wasn't obvious, once they have the goggles on, they're not allowed to call time since the goggles protect their eyes from those dangerous dust particles.
   127. SoSH U at work Posted: March 27, 2020 at 03:16 PM (#5934154)
If a batter gets dust in his eyes, he should just back the hell out of the batter's box and hope the pitcher throws a ball.
   128. Buck Coats Posted: March 27, 2020 at 04:24 PM (#5934196)
The argument I always make is - if I'm drafting a player (and I get his whole career) and you're telling me I can have Mariano Rivera or Andy Pettitte, I'm picking Pettitte. And I don't think Pettitte is a Hall of Famer. So therefore...
   129. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: March 27, 2020 at 04:35 PM (#5934202)
Oliver Perez was an OK starter who declined quickly through either mental insecurity or mysterious knee problems.

Then he reemerged as a reliever - his first relief season was great, then he was mediocre for 5 years, then one more great season at 36. So relieving isn't that easy.

Brett Myers spent one year as a closer (2007 after Tom Gordon got injured) and then went back to the rotation, and his stats were almost exactly the same with a few more Ks.
Although he had made 3 starts in April 2007 before Gordon got injured, and in those three starts he gave up 16 runs and 12 extra-base hits. So maybe relieving is that easy.
   130. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: March 27, 2020 at 04:54 PM (#5934221)
OK, this is the best stat I'm going to discover by chance this year. Jeff Fassero was only the 4th person I looked up when trying to remember people who were both starters and relievers, and look at this.

Jeff Fassero as a starter (1501 innings): WHIP 1.380, 7.3 K/9
Jeff Fassero as a reliever (532 innings): WHIP 1.381, 7.2 K/9

Almost every stat is identical between starting and relieving, across his long career. The only exception is HR/9 (1.03 as a starter, 0.71 as a reliever) and the result is his ERA was 4.18 as a starter and 3.91 as a reliever.
   131. catomi01 Posted: March 27, 2020 at 05:27 PM (#5934234)
Brett Myers spent one year as a closer (2007 after Tom Gordon got injured) and then went back to the rotation, and his stats were almost exactly the same with a few more Ks.


Tom Gordon is actually one of the guys I would think of as looking at as evidence...except that he was pretty solid as a starter up until being moved to the bullpen full time in 98. He was pretty clearly better as a reliever though - 4.40 ERA v. 3.29, 1.472 WHIP v. 1.192 and 7.2 K/9 v. 9.7....so a lot more experience than Rivera as a Starter, but a worse line than Rivera as a reliever (better K/9 though)

   132. bbmck Posted: March 27, 2020 at 06:06 PM (#5934250)
Mariano Rivera: 18 years of 67.2 IP, 223 ERA+, 42 OPS+

Seasons of 60+ IP, 200+ ERA+, 50 OPS+ or lower since 1918 (current OPS+ cutoff):

9 - Mariano Rivera
5 - Joe Nathan
4 - Zack Britton, Craig Kimbrel, Billy Wagner, Pedro Martinez
3 - Andrew Miller, Greg Holland, John Wetteland
2 - Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and 16 relievers
1 - Bob Gibson, Ron Guidry, 13 pitchers with 10+ starts in the 2000s, 98 pitchers with 0-9 starts

Dropping to 40+ IP the top 3 lines don't change, Wade Davis, Aroldis Chapman, Darren O'Day and Troy Percival also have 3 and total with at least 1 season goes up to 191 from 140.

Drop the OPS+ and Rivera has 12 seasons of 220+ or 200+ ERA+ and 60+ IP, 14 seasons of 190+/60+ next highest are Joe Nathan with 5 of 220+/60+, 6 of 200+/60+ and 190+/60+.

Pedro: 671 IP and 124 ERA+, 1408 IP and 213 ERA+, 748.1 IP and 114 ERA+
Mariano: 67 IP and 84 ERA+ and 1216.2 IP and 223 ERA+ or 1283.2 IP and 205 ERA+
   133. Hysterical & Useless Posted: March 27, 2020 at 08:45 PM (#5934300)
when he was on the Mets, the home crowd would BOO him vociferously after the first "pickoff throw"

Lord, we'd start booing when he was announced as the next day's starting pitcher!
   134. Karl from NY Posted: March 27, 2020 at 09:46 PM (#5934315)
third team in NY
you misspelled NJ!

NJ isn't workable for an MLB team. Look at the Devils for your example. They did everything right as a franchise: won three titles, got a new arena in the most transit accessible place in the area, had an iconic GOAT star and several other marketable favorites... and still always come in the bottom half of the league for attendance. There just isn't enough of an audience to carve out from the NY teams, and not enough of a metro exurb hinterland to support from TV money (like how NESN gets all of New England way beyond Boston proper, or Rogers gets Canada), since NJ is hemmed in by upstate NY and anywhere in PA which won't care.
   135. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: March 27, 2020 at 10:55 PM (#5934328)
Along the lines of "The overall goal of "make there be a price for wasting time" "

As an alternate to the pitch clock, I thought about something along the lines of "If a batter takes N (I thought maybe N=7) practice swings without the pitcher beginning his/her motion towards the plate, the pitcher shall be charged a ball"

I really think if we could come up with a number of "natural" penalties for wasting time, it would make the game better, and perhaps add some interesting strategic things.

The same idea of "make there be a price for wasting time" could be applied to visits to the mound, changing pitchers mid-inning (I favor the roster penalty idea), excessive foul balls (after the Mth foul ball, a ball is subtracted, perhaps?).

It really takes some of the independent leagues (Atlantic League) and perhaps something like the short-season A leagues, the rookie leagues, etc. to experiment. And that might make people want to go see those games, to see how the rules work themselves.
   136. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 28, 2020 at 01:02 PM (#5934450)
I think lots of guys like Kerry Wood or Mark Prior could have had careers like Mariano.

Wood pitched in relief for a few years at the end of his career. Still couldn't stay healthy (and also wasn't as good as Rivera even when healthy). Of course, this might have played out differently if he'd moved to the 'pen earlier, but who knows.
   137. McCoy Posted: March 28, 2020 at 01:21 PM (#5934453)
That's it's boring and too long.
   138. Howie Menckel Posted: March 28, 2020 at 01:25 PM (#5934455)
So relieving isn't that easy.

see, that lives up to the thread title!
   139. Karl from NY Posted: March 28, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5934479)
"If a batter takes N (I thought maybe N=7) practice swings without the pitcher beginning his/her motion towards the plate, the pitcher shall be charged a ball"

This is hilarious to imagine the batter whirling around Bugs Bunny style to cram in 7 revolutions before the pitcher gets set.
   140. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: March 28, 2020 at 04:25 PM (#5934521)
This is hilarious to imagine the batter whirling around Bugs Bunny style to cram in 7 revolutions before the pitcher gets set.


Yeah. I know. It's just the best I could come up with, as a "natural clock". It probably wouldn't work unless the umpire enforced something like "natural practice swings". Probably a clock is more practical, unless someone else can come up with a natural clock.
   141. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: March 29, 2020 at 05:55 AM (#5934670)
I think that all fans who do the wave, especially when the home team is batting,
should be escorted out of the stadium.
   142. pikepredator Posted: March 29, 2020 at 09:42 AM (#5934681)
I think that all fans who do the wave, especially when the home team is batting,
should be escorted out of the stadium.


I love the wave. Which of our opinions is truly less-popular?
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