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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dewan: Are throws to first to hold the runner a waste of time?

This is an instance where speed actually slows down the game. Isn’t that amazing, Suzyn!

A fast runner is at first and the pitcher keeps throwing over to hold the runner. Sometimes this can get pretty monotonous for us fans, especially after the first couple of throws. Is the pitcher getting anything out of this?

About a decade ago, we examined the issue based on data in the 1990s and found that pickoff throws did make a difference in stolen base success rates. As teams have become more efficient with stolen bases over the past few years, it’s possible that the results have changed.

As it turns out, it still does make a difference. Based on actual data from 2002-09 the stolen base percentage of a runner decreases if at least one throw is made over to first by the pitcher:


Stolen Base
Percentage

No Throw Made 75%
At Least One Throw Made 64%

Repoz Posted: September 01, 2009 at 12:54 PM | 59 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:04 PM (#3310633)
hey--don't confuse me with data; I can see what I see with my own ears
   2. realteamcoach Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:11 PM (#3310643)
Just a question---how many of those are on 3-2 counts? The deeper the count, it is more likely that a throw has been made. Is there more data that breaks this down further?

BTW, I am assuming that baserunners steal less effectively on 3-2 than on other counts.
   3. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:12 PM (#3310644)
Didn't Bill James do a study on this in one of the Abstracts? I seem to recall him coming to the same conclusion...

throws to first still suck, though...
   4. GregQ Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:17 PM (#3310650)
Does the old fake the throw to third then spin and throw to first work? I have only seen it catch one player, but it worked with him at least twice.
   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:18 PM (#3310652)
Are throws to first to hold the runner a waste of time?


There's a lot more to this than just stolen base success rate - you should look at whether the runner is able to take an extra base on a hit, to break up a DP, and so forth.

-- MWE
   6. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:18 PM (#3310654)
Does the old fake the throw to third then spin and throw to first work?


I've also seen it work once.

-- MWE
   7. Craig Calcaterra Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:20 PM (#3310657)
Personally, I would like to see more hidden-ball trick. I bet it works more often than the fake-to-third, spin and throw does.
   8. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:27 PM (#3310663)
Ron Johnson looked at this some years ago and found that the batter also hit worse when there were more pickoff attempts.
   9. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:45 PM (#3310684)
Ron Johnson looked at this some years ago and found that the batter also hit worse when there were more pickoff attempts.


Hmm, so maybe there is something to Clay Buchholz's interminable throws to first every time a batter reaches base. Too bad it hasn't seemed to help him much.
   10. GregQ Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:46 PM (#3310687)
Was it Barry Bonds?
   11. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: September 01, 2009 at 01:49 PM (#3310690)
Personally, I would like to see more hidden-ball trick.


You hafta watch Mets games. I don't think they've lost on this one yet this year, and the odds are that they will.
   12. Ron Johnson Posted: September 01, 2009 at 02:01 PM (#3310702)
Actually Dan it was another Stats study. I just reported their results.

And their reporting was incomplete. Didn't give the walk rates. Still the BA and SLG dropped enough on PAs where there was at least one throw to first that I'm doubtful that any extra walks could compensate.

Pretty much the same effects as Kevin Hoare and Doug Drinen demonstrated for the running game.
   13. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: September 01, 2009 at 02:07 PM (#3310705)
I've also seen it work once.
Jeff Nelson pulled it off twice in one week.

It's one of those plays where people assume it never works because it rarely does, but it does.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: September 01, 2009 at 02:16 PM (#3310714)
It's one of those plays where people assume it never works because it rarely does, but it does.


Has it ever failed? In other words, has it resulted in a balk (if somehow executed improperly), or a pitcher throwing the ball away?

That's a legitimate question. I've never seen it result in something that negatively affects the defense (and yes, I've seen it succeed once).
   15. salvomania Posted: September 01, 2009 at 02:18 PM (#3310717)
I'm almost positive it worked against the Cardinals at some point fairly recently, like since the beginning of last season....

EDIT: Actually, it was the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright who pulled it off earlier this year, catching Victorino off 1st.
   16. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: September 01, 2009 at 02:19 PM (#3310719)
Has it ever failed? In other words, has it resulted in a balk (if somehow executed improperly), or a pitcher throwing the ball away?

That's a legitimate question. I've never seen it result in something that negatively affects the defense (and yes, I've seen it succeed once).


I remember a Red Sox pitcher throwing the ball away in that situation once a long time ago (for frame of reference I think it was Dana Kiecker). I was pissed at the time because the runner had actually broken for second and the play worked except the pitcher fired the ball over by the first baseman and it turned into a track meet on the bases.
   17. salvomania Posted: September 01, 2009 at 04:03 PM (#3310863)
That's a legitimate question. I've never seen it result in something that negatively affects the defense (and yes, I've seen it succeed once).


A couple of weeks before Wainwright successfully picked off Victorino, Kyle Lohse was called for a balk using the same manuever in this game, which scored the Mets first run.
   18. ASmitty Posted: September 01, 2009 at 04:34 PM (#3310913)
That's a legitimate question. I've never seen it result in something that negatively affects the defense (and yes, I've seen it succeed once)


Miguel Cabrera got picked off with this a few weeks ago and Ryan Raburn, who was on third, scored during the ensuing run down; meanwhile, Cabrera advanced to second when the defense aborted the run down and threw home in an unsuccessful attempt to get Raburn.

Fairly rare though I suppose.
   19. Howzer Posted: September 01, 2009 at 05:03 PM (#3310939)
Throwing over to first base can upset a pitcher's timing and mechanics of throwing to home plate. If a pitcher is distracted by just a minute amount, he may not throw the pitch as intended. Is there any correlation between opponents ops when throwing over to 1st as opposed to concentrating solely on the hitter?

BTW, I once saw Barry Bonds get picked off on the fake to third throw to first.
   20. Cod Guy Posted: September 01, 2009 at 05:11 PM (#3310945)
Just this season, Max Scherzer got a double play out of it.

Yunel Escobar was on third and Chipper Jones was on first with one out. Scherzer faked to third and threw to first, which caught Jones off the bag. Escobar tried to advance home while they were tagging out Chipper, and it didn't work.
   21. Ron Johnson Posted: September 01, 2009 at 05:22 PM (#3310963)
#19. As mentioned it looks as though it upsets the hitter more than the pitcher. At least the only time I've seen anything published on the subject BA and SLG were down a pretty fair amount. Sadly no mention of OBP.

Probably an artifact of the batter having to take potentially hittable pitches to allow the guy on first to steal. IOW probably actually unrelated to the throws to first.
   22. Gaelan Posted: September 01, 2009 at 05:33 PM (#3310982)
I've noticed basestealers have started going on first movement more. As this starts happening not only do pitchers have to throw over to first they should probably throw over 30 to 40% of the time. This makes me want to shoot myself.
   23. Ron Johnson Posted: September 01, 2009 at 05:40 PM (#3310995)
Gaelen, Bill James has proposed various limitations on throwing over. I was on board as soon as I read the proposals.

Yeah it rates to make the running game more successful if you limit the throws over. Don't care, and I'm as close to a TTO fan as you'll find.
   24. Your favorite TFTIO, me! Posted: September 01, 2009 at 05:43 PM (#3311005)
I always love it when some slowcoach pitcher is taking his goddamned sweet time, checking the runners, calling time, fidgeting, &c;. and then he whirls and airmails the throw to first into the stands. Sweet, sweet justice.
   25. Gaelan Posted: September 01, 2009 at 05:45 PM (#3311009)
Gaelen, Bill James has proposed various limitations on throwing over. I was on board as soon as I read the proposals.

Yeah it rates to make the running game more successful if you limit the throws over. Don't care, and I'm as close to a TTO fan as you'll find.


I remember those proposals. I think it might have some unintended consequences and increase basestealing a lot. It would be an interesting experiment.
   26. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 01, 2009 at 05:45 PM (#3311010)
A couple of weeks before Wainwright successfully picked off Victorino, Kyle Lohse was called for a balk using the same manuever in this game, which scored the Mets first run.


It should be called a balk much more often than it is.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: September 01, 2009 at 05:59 PM (#3311033)
Gaelen, Bill James has proposed various limitations on throwing over. I was on board as soon as I read the proposals.

Yeah it rates to make the running game more successful if you limit the throws over. Don't care, and I'm as close to a TTO fan as you'll find.


Funny, I don't like the idea, and I'm as big a fan of non-TTO baseball as you can find this side of Treder and Dewey. To me, baseball specializes in the infinite (number of innings, number of pitches a batter can face, amount of fair territory, counting beyond the fence). Forced limitations are for inferior sports.
   28. Srul Itza Posted: September 01, 2009 at 06:06 PM (#3311046)
I agree with SoSH, but then again, I am a baseball traditionalist. James is constantly talking about tinkering with the rules to make the game better, but most of the time I am in favor of leaving well enough alone.

The things he proposes that I don't mind are changes like mandating bat handle width; moving the batter's box, and other things which tinker with the pitcher-batter dynamic, to restore some equilibrium to the game. Calling the damn strike zone right wouldn't hurt, either. But other than that, leave well enough alone.
   29. fret Posted: September 01, 2009 at 06:35 PM (#3311090)
So, why don't pitchers throw to first more often? (Besides that they want the game to move along just like everyone else.)
   30. RJ in TO Posted: September 01, 2009 at 06:41 PM (#3311102)
So, why don't pitchers throw to first more often?


Potential for errors. Wasted energy on the throws to first. Driving their teammates insane. Increasingly volume on the booing from the crowds. The most important one, however, is just a matter of keeping their own pitching timing. The longer they wait between actual pitches, the colder they're going to be.
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: September 01, 2009 at 06:48 PM (#3311114)
Potential for errors. Wasted energy on the throws to first. Driving their teammates insane. Increasingly volume on the booing from the crowds. The most important one, however, is just a matter of keeping their own pitching timing. The longer they wait between actual pitches, the colder they're going to be.


All of which explain why BJ's rule change is unneccessary.
   32. Ron Johnson Posted: September 01, 2009 at 08:59 PM (#3311325)
All of which explain why BJ's rule change is unneccessary.


Well it's true that the game is perfectly acceptable with the occasional bout of endless throws to first (worth noting though: Tippy Martinez would still be throwing to first if he hadn't picked off the side. He had absolutely no intention of throwing to Sakata with a runner on) the throws add nothing.

I'm sure there would be unintended consequences but I'm damned if I can figure out how they'd hurt anything. Provided you also enforce the 20 second rule. Otherwise you'd get a lot of pitcher staring at baserunner.
   33. SuperGrover Posted: September 01, 2009 at 09:49 PM (#3311362)
Potential for errors. Wasted energy on the throws to first.


Both are these are key I would think.

I've seen Jack McDowell successfully pull off the fake-to-third-to-first pickoff at least twice.
   34. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 02, 2009 at 01:59 AM (#3311553)
All of which explain why BJ's rule change is unneccessary.


Modern Day Game Length called, and said, uh, no.

I always find it amusing that "traditionalists" are against tinkering with the game, yet they watch a game with a near 3 hour average length, that became popular during the first half of the last century with a 2 hour game length. The game you watch today has changed beyond recognition from anything "traditional", and baseball should start managing the changes in an intelligent manner instead of letting the game degrade ad hoc. Because some of the changes that pad game length can't be reversed (TV commercial breaks), baseball needs to be aggressive about tinkering with "traditional" rules to reclaim some of the dead time that is making baseball more of a snoozefest.

Those who think the game is perfectly acceptable are delusional. There is a great game buried inside an extra hour of nothingness that turns off many average fans. I just asked my wife if she wanted to go to a game this weekend, and her response was, "when does the Fall League start?". She likes baseball, but would rather go to a minor league game that doesn't have all the tedious TV time outs and between pitch posturing..

To improve the game, I'd start by calling a ball on any throw to first that doesn't catch a runner off base. I'm not saying the runner has to be tagged out, simply that the throw needs to hit the first baseman's glove before the runner gets back to the bag. That eliminates the lazy time wasting soft toss to first. And it raises the cost of an unsuccessful throw, but about as little as possible. It's not so prohibitive a cost that pitchers won't risk throwing over occasionally. And it's a simple rule that can be enforced easily, umpires don't have to keep any extra count for throws to first. And if it doesn't shorten the game, because the time saved by fewer tosses are replaced by more stolen bases and offense, that's fine too. I'd rather watch attempted steals than a pitcher playing catch with his first baseman.

Secondly, I'd punish batters using too thin bat handles by making a broken bat an immediate out, unless the hitter is able to put the ball in play and make it to first safely. No replacements allowed during an at bat, if your bat is cracked, to the dugout you are sent back. Fewer broken bats means safer, faster, game, thicker bats reduces offense, restoring some "traditional" balance to a game that has gotten heavily offense oriented. Again, it's a natural rule that gives pitchers a reasonable reward for breaking a bat, and isn't complicated to enforce, like specific bat sizes/wood types would be.
   35. villageidiom Posted: September 02, 2009 at 02:42 AM (#3311625)
Secondly, I'd punish batters using too thin bat handles by making a broken bat an immediate out, unless the hitter is able to put the ball in play and make it to first safely.
Just allow them to use one bat per game. If it breaks, they must use one of the remaining pieces the rest of the way.
   36. ColonelTom Posted: September 02, 2009 at 02:44 AM (#3311629)
Because some of the changes that pad game length can't be reversed (TV commercial breaks)


That can't be reversed? Why not, if game length is costing the league enough fans (and, in turn, money) to offset the lost revenue? Chop 30 seconds off each commercial break between innings, and you'll get back roughly 9 minutes per game.

One of the best suggestions I've seen is to require each reliever to pitch to at least two batters instead of one (unless the inning ends and you pinch-hit for him after one batter faced); you'll probably lose 1-2 pitching changes per game, saving you another 3-6 minutes or so.

Enforce the 20-second rule - hell, take it down to 15 - and I suspect you'd save another 10 minutes per game.

Regulate the thickness of bat handles - no need for a funky in-game rule, just make the thinner ones illegal and both call out and throw out anyone who uses an illegal bat. Fewer broken bats means more safety, fewer delays for bat retrieval/replacement, and reduced offense (and perhaps more willingness of pitchers to throw strikes) as the result of heavier bats.

Raise the mound a couple of inches and you'll shorten games considerably as offense plummets. Of course, like the commercial-break issue and the bat handles, one has to weigh the appeal of shorter games vs. how much "chicks dig the long ball."
   37. Gaelan Posted: September 02, 2009 at 03:36 AM (#3311680)
The issue isn't the length of the games, it is what is happening in the middle of the game. I'd like to see a pitch clock. I like baseball. I don't watching a guy wandering around the mound or a hitter rearranging his batting gloves in between every pitch.
   38. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 02, 2009 at 03:38 AM (#3311683)
Modern Day Game Length called, and said, uh, no.


How much of an issue is throwing over to first base as opposed to all of the other things, many of which could be addressed by enforcing the existing rules. And I'm all for increasing the bat thickness and requiring relievers to pitch to more than one batter.

But gimmicking up the rules governing pickoff throws seems a negative solution to what's not one of the bigger contributors to slower pace of play, unless you think that pitchers today are spending substantially more time throwing over to first than they were when the games were two hours long.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: September 02, 2009 at 10:47 AM (#3311797)
the causality isn't at all clear here.

OK, sure, presumably a good move to first will cause some runners to shorten their lead or tire them out by making them dive back in or whatever.

But the mere fact that the pitcher is throwing to first shows that the defensive team is thinking about the possibility of a stolen base. Such a pitcher is also probably using a slide step. The team is more likely to pitch out too. And, in certain "running counts", the team might counter-intuitively be more likely to throw over to first with a less-experienced base stealer over there (i.e. a guy who normally steals at about 64% or so).

Didn't read the article, just the excerpt but clearly you need to control for the runner. I'm sure the difference isn't nearly so dramatic (it wouldn't surprise me if there is no difference frankly) but you have to compare those base-stealing percentages to whatever you'd expect from that set of runners overall. I'd think you'd need to control for count -- not only might 0-0 or 1-0 be better running counts but they also mean the pitcher has had fewer opportunities to throw over. And Mike makes the very good point that the effect should also be present (though maybe not detectable) in other areas of baserunning.
   40. Zipperholes Posted: September 02, 2009 at 11:16 AM (#3311798)
The issue isn't the length of the games, it is what is happening in the middle of the game. I'd like to see a pitch clock. I like baseball. I don't watching a guy wandering around the mound or a hitter rearranging his batting gloves in between every pitch.


Right. The unnecessary time between pitches is what makes the games so long. What I don't understand is why pitchers sit there allowing the batter to go through his routine before every pitch and walk around the mound themselves. It seems like an unwritten rule that the pitcher will wait until the batter is ready. But as a pitcher, I'd want to stay in a rhythm. And there's no reason why umpires need to grant time when the batter requests it. In high school I think our league had a rule that it was an automatic strike if a batter steps out of the box in the middle of an at-bat - this seems like a reasonable rule, with the caveat that there's nobody on base. It would speed up the game tremendously.
   41. sunnyday2 Posted: September 02, 2009 at 11:29 AM (#3311801)
Yes. Ban them.
   42. tjm1 Posted: September 02, 2009 at 12:02 PM (#3311807)
In high school I think our league had a rule that it was an automatic strike if a batter steps out of the box in the middle of an at-bat - this seems like a reasonable rule, with the caveat that there's nobody on base.


Or let the guy take one foot out of the box while he looks for a sign, even, but he has to keep the other foot in the box.

The unnecessary time between pitches is what makes the games so long.


That and the huge increase in the number of pitching changes.

But as a pitcher, I'd want to stay in a rhythm.


I think you're dead on with this. When I was a kid in the 1980's, there were basically two hitters who had long routines between pitches - Mike Hargrove and Rickey Henderson. Not surprisingly, these were two of the most frequently walking non-power hitters (I know Rickey had some power, but he didn't finish in the top 10 in homers until 1990).
   43. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 02, 2009 at 05:21 PM (#3312123)
But gimmicking up the rules governing pickoff throws seems a negative solution to what's not one of the bigger contributors to slower pace of play, unless you think that pitchers today are spending substantially more time throwing over to first than they were when the games were two hours long.


Again, it's not that pickoff throws have increased over time (I don't know whether they have or haven't), but it's being intelligent about reducing the least interesting parts of the game to save time, and pick-off throws are one. If you can get there with forcing relievers to pitch to two batters (or get one out), and legislating bat widths, I'm on board. I just like the idea of bringing back the stolen base, and making pick-off throws more high leverage. Fewer pickoff attempts, but higher success rate (since batters will take bigger leads). And if the pitcher can get the throw to the first baseman's glove before the baserunner can get to the bag, he can throw over all he wants, if the runner beats the throw it only costs a ball count, not a base (unless the batter has three balls already). So it's about as subtle a change as you can make in that aspect of the game to improve it.

And I don't know what the correct bat width or materials are, do we need a committee to decide it and modify it year by year? Are we going to have Billy Martin like situations where the team has to protest, and waits until the guy hits a home run and then protests to turn the HR into an out? Making a broken bat an out rewards the pitcher for pitching hard inside, and punishes the batter for crowding the plate and using too thin a bat. No committee needed, and no HR protests. Supposedly Mo Vaughn hit a broken bat HR in AAA, so that would be the ultimate achievement, pitcher breaks bat, but batter is able to avoid the out by putting the ball in play and over the fence.

Obviously, if we could shorten TV breaks, that would be one of the most direct and best solutions, but I was proposing ideas that I thought were achievable in the real world, not fantasyland. There is no way teams and the MLB are going to cut their revenue stream, even if I made the argument that scarcer commercial space and more watchable games might equal more revenues, not less, it would be met by their guffaws.
   44. tjm1 Posted: September 02, 2009 at 05:26 PM (#3312126)
Obviously, if we could shorten TV breaks, that would be one of the most direct and best solutions, but I was proposing ideas that I thought were achievable in the real world, not fantasyland. There is no way teams and the MLB are going to cut their revenue stream, even if I made the argument that scarcer commercial space and more watchable games might equal more revenues, not less, it would be met by their guffaws.


I think there are some people who would see that shorter games would lead to higher ratings, and more revenue. However, the real issue is that the TV networks would have to step in and suggest this. (And, of course, the TV stations would be able to show ads during additional programs if they had fewer hours of baseball on).

I think the dangerous thing about legislating pickoff attempts is that it might lead to more cases of pitchers stepping off the rubber to stare a runner back.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: September 02, 2009 at 05:27 PM (#3312128)
Again, it's not that pickoff throws have increased over time (I don't know whether they have or haven't), but it's being intelligent about reducing the least interesting parts of the game to save time, and pick-off throws are one.


But in my view, at a cost that far outstrips the tiny, tiny gain.

And I don't know what the correct bat width or materials are, do we need a committee to decide it and modify it year by year? Are we going to have Billy Martin like situations where the team has to protest, and waits until the guy hits a home run and then protests to turn the HR into an out?


No, I'm not for any gimmicks there either. Just a standardized handle width. If a bat is discovered to exceed the maximum width, the bat and the player are both tossed (and the player suspended).
   46. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 02, 2009 at 05:33 PM (#3312130)
And there's no reason why umpires need to grant time when the batter requests it. In high school I think our league had a rule that it was an automatic strike if a batter steps out of the box in the middle of an at-bat - this seems like a reasonable rule, with the caveat that there's nobody on base.


That's a little extreme, but the umpires should just stop granting time to the hitters automatically. You step out of the box without time being called, and you risk having the pitcher throw a pitch down the middle.

All these suggestions about limiting throws to first rub me the wrong way, for reasons I can't quite articulate. There's a big difference, to me, between changing the rules of how the game is played and changing rules on the periphery, like mandating thicker bats or requiring the hitter to stay in the batter's box. I'd want to exhaust all the possibilities of the latter before I start changing fundamental playing rules.
   47. FrankM Posted: September 02, 2009 at 05:35 PM (#3312132)
I think the dangerous thing about legislating pickoff attempts is that it might lead to more cases of pitchers stepping off the rubber to stare a runner back.

Not a problem. Pitcher steps off, it counts as an unsuccessful pickoff attempt. Ball 1.
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: September 02, 2009 at 05:42 PM (#3312135)
All these suggestions about limiting throws to first rub me the wrong way, for reasons I can't quite articulate. There's a big difference, to me, between changing the rules of how the game is played and changing rules on the periphery, like mandating thicker bats or requiring the hitter to stay in the batter's box. I'd want to exhaust all the possibilities of the latter before I start changing fundamental playing rules.


Exactly. I understand the desire for quicker games. But I've got a real issue with touching on the rules governing play, and feel there are a lot of modifications to equipment (bats and balls), the batter's box, mound height that can do the trick.
   49. tjm1 Posted: September 02, 2009 at 06:06 PM (#3312161)
That's a little extreme, but the umpires should just stop granting time to the hitters automatically. You step out of the box without time being called, and you risk having the pitcher throw a pitch down the middle.


The official rules already allow the umpire to call a strike on a batter for refusing to take his place in the box. The National Association already bans stepping out of the box with both feet.

Also, as for the risk of a "pine tar incident" over bats: first, it would be more like corking a bat, than having too much pine tar. The pine tar rule was to prevent the balls from getting sticky with pine tar. Since balls are only used for about 2 pitches apiece now, it's an outdated rule anyways. The corked/too thin bat rule is to prevent having a bat that can be swung too quickly. You could also allow players to have their bats measured before the games. This would prevent a surprise challenge. Perhaps the umpires could even put stickers on verified bats, or something. There would be easy ways to keep this from being a real issue. Alternatively, it could be an inches/ounces rule, so that the measurements would be easier (i.e. the bat must weigh at least the number of inches minus 3, in ounces, or something).
   50. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 02, 2009 at 06:09 PM (#3312164)
Since balls are only used for about 2 pitches apiece now


All too often, bats are only used for 2 pitches apiece, too.
   51. base ball chick Posted: September 02, 2009 at 06:39 PM (#3312214)
not sure if it is my personal loathing of bill james, but i do NOT want him or anyone else making up no new rules

the umps COULD enforce the rules that already exist and do simple things like refuse to allow batters to step out, make pitchers stick to the rules ALREADY in place
   52. GuyM Posted: September 02, 2009 at 07:06 PM (#3312260)
Ron/12/21: Could you post a link to the study you mention about impact on the batter of throws to first?

I thought there was a previous discussion of the Hoare/Drinen study on baserunners' impact on hitters, that concluded it was based on a misreading of the data. Isn't that right? A link to that would also be much appreciated.
   53. GuyM Posted: September 02, 2009 at 07:13 PM (#3312269)
The Dewan study tells us very little, I'm afraid. Just for starters, pitchers will throw when they expect the runner to be going, meaning situations in which the payoff/cost ratio of a SBA is high (for batting team). And in those same situations, the batting team should and will be more aggressive: sending slower runners, running on LH pitchers, running on good-throwing catchers. So it would be shocking if the success rate were NOT lower.

It would be extremely hard to separate out the independent effect of making throws to first (if it's possible at all). Unfortunately, this study doesn't appear to have made even a good start at sorting out the confounding factors that need to be addressed.
   54. cardsfanboy Posted: September 02, 2009 at 07:18 PM (#3312276)
Stolen Base
Percentage
No Throw Made 75%
At Least One Throw Made 64%


I hope nobody looks at this data and thinks "well attempting to pick off works" because that is the wrong conclusion. The conclusion is if you pay attention to the runner you will reduce his stolen base rate. Albert Pujols has 14 steals and 4 cs this year, and it's because the team just isn't paying attention to him. Yadier is 7 and 2. A study like this needs to remove the caught by surprise steals in the equation. They should only look at guys who steal fairly regulary(use 20 steals as a minimu for the study)
   55. Ron Johnson Posted: September 02, 2009 at 07:34 PM (#3312298)
#52 Can't post a link, It's from an old Stats Scoreboard. I'll see if I can dig it up.

No mis-reading of the data (unless I missed something) Doug's study

And Kevin's is in the 1987 Great American Baseball Stat Book.

Effects were dramatic. However Tango popped in to say that the same level of effect is not happening these days.

As to why, more than likely teams noticed the same thing we did. If you're willing to take a Max Bishop type of approach at the plate when the baserunner is likely to attempt to steal, you'll probably do just fine. You have to be willing to accept a walk to do well batting after a base stealer.
   56. GuyM Posted: September 02, 2009 at 07:48 PM (#3312324)
The problem with Doug's study is that if a batter strikes out while a runner attempts the steal, the SBA gets recorded (unless there were 2 outs), but if the batter puts the ball in play the SBA will not be recorded. So on these SBAs, the hitter will appear to hit .000, when in fact he probably hit for his usual average. I'm sure we discussed this in an earlier thread. I think someone ran the numbers and found that strikeouts account for all or vitually all of the difference Doug found.

To do this right, you have to look only at PAs which do not end on the same pitch as the SBA.
   57. Zipperholes Posted: September 02, 2009 at 09:16 PM (#3312468)
That's a little extreme, but the umpires should just stop granting time to the hitters automatically. You step out of the box without time being called, and you risk having the pitcher throw a pitch down the middle.


The official rules already allow the umpire to call a strike on a batter for refusing to take his place in the box. The National Association already bans stepping out of the box with both feet.


Umps granting time to the hitters automatically needs to stop. But the usual case is the pitcher waiting for the hitter to conduct his pre-pitch ritual without time being granted. I don't understand this. It not only allows the hitter to control the pace of the game, think about what pitch is coming next, and get comfortable, but like I said earlier I'd want to be in a rhythm as a pitcher and take advantage of the fact that I know what pitch is coming and he doesn't.

The onus is on the pitchers to change things - umps won't stop allowing hitters to step out until pitchers start complaining, and hitters won't stop until pitchers start quick-pitching them. Apparently the pitchers don't care too much.
   58. GuyM Posted: September 02, 2009 at 09:39 PM (#3312487)
Ron:
Here is the thread I was thinking of: http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/newsstand/discussion/tht_beamer_introducing_markov_chains/. It was Joe Arthur who spotted the big role that strikeouts play.

Another problem is that, in general, a SBA attempt can be recorded when the batter swings and misses, but not when he puts the ball in play. That creates a bias, giving some hitters an extra strike in PAs with a SBA (but having nothing to do with whether the SBA actually impedes hitting). We had a further discussion on this at the Book blog, starting at post 10: http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/run_value_of_the_cs_and_pk/

Bottom line: the Drinen study is badly flawed, and if there is any SBA penalty at all for the hitter, it's much smaller than that study seems to indicate.
   59. cardsfanboy Posted: September 02, 2009 at 10:22 PM (#3312534)
The onus is on the pitchers to change things - umps won't stop allowing hitters to step out until pitchers start complaining, and hitters won't stop until pitchers start quick-pitching them. Apparently the pitchers don't care too much.

a game this week for the Cardinals, the batter did step out and the ump never granted time and the pitch was a strike. I thought that was pretty cool, hadn't seen that in years.

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