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Friday, April 30, 2021

Position Players Are Suddenly — and Probably Fleetingly — Decent at Pitching

As a percentage of all relief appearances, the position player pitching (PPP) rate is up about 38% over last year. It’s nearly four times the rate of 2017, and nearly double the rate of ’18, the year that the phenomenon really took off. Over a full 162-game schedule, this year’s rate projects to 126 PPP appearances, 51 more than in 2019. That’s about five per week.

Particularly as their usage has proliferated, we’ve seen just how bad position players generally are at this, to the point of allowing nearly a run per inning. This year they’re actually pitching comparatively effectively, mainly by avoiding home runs, which on a per-game basis are down 11.5% from last year (perhaps due to the new ball). So far, the Angels’ Anthony Bemboom is the only one to serve up a long ball (to the Astros’ Kyle Tucker, in case you need to know). Because they’ve actually gotten batters out, the rate of PPP appearances as a percentage of batters faced (0.62%) is only up about 16% relative to last year.

The sudden success of the PPPs probably isn’t velocity, unless that means the lack of same. Via a very quick and dirty Baseball Savant study, the average pitch velocity of this year’s PPP appearances — and here I’m lumping all pitches together because classifying these guys’ offerings is rather ambiguous — is 67.5 mph, down more than three clicks from last year and seven clicks from 2018, the earliest year I checked. By that I’d guess, and this is just a guess, that we’ve gradually seen more curves, eephuses and knuckleballs than batting-practice fastballs from these guys, which to these eyes adds to the entertainment. If the phenomenon continues, I swear on a stack of Billy Ripken ****face cards that I’ll apply for a MacArthur Fellowship grant to study the phenomenon more diligently.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 12:23 PM | 47 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: position players pitching

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   1. John Northey Posted: April 30, 2021 at 12:44 PM (#6016309)
I remember a few years ago (probably a decade or so) we saw a similar thing happen. There was talk of some hitters becoming pitchers due to how effective they seemed to be but it never happened as things went back to normal. I figure it is just a random odds thing. The old 'enough monkeys at a typewriter' thing. I remember long ago the Expos were looking at Vance Law as their designated Position Player Pitcher as he was half decent, and they started warming him with 5 run deficits instead of just 10 run blowouts - don't think they used him much though - just 6 times over 2 seasons 3.38 ERA lifetime though over 8 IP 9 H 3 BB 2 SO for a 134 ERA+. In 1986 a 6 run spread was the smallest deficit he saw, but I know I saw the Expos warm him up a few times with closer games but never had the guts to put him in sadly enough. At the time he was mainly a 2B who played a bit of 3B/1B as well and had a 101 OPS+. 94 lifetime. Seemed like an opportunity was lost there.

I'd love for more teams to find super-utility guys who can pitch and hit enough to be useful in both roles. Not star level like Ohtani but decent enough to use in games with big spreads to save the pen while also being useful on other days as a backup infielder or outfielder or (in a perfect world) catcher. Oh for a utility guy who can catch and pitch.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 30, 2021 at 12:49 PM (#6016311)
Oh for a utility guy who can catch and pitch.
At the same time. That would be some super awesome Cool Papa Bell ####.
   3. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: April 30, 2021 at 01:23 PM (#6016321)
maybe some dude with a bugs bunny change could do it
   4. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 02:58 PM (#6016337)
Of all the things that irritate the hell out of me in contemporary Major League Baseball, this might be the most irritating (at least until sports gambling is legal in Texas). In an era of eight and nine-man bullpens, we get more and more position players pitching as early as the 6th or 7th inning of a blowout because, God forbid, some indispensable cog of the remote back end of the bullpen who otherwise gets a couple of innings a week and might actually benefit from more regular work can't be asked to "waste" any precious pitches from his glass arm in an ultra low-leverage situation.
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 30, 2021 at 03:30 PM (#6016343)
Meh. At least it's kind of funny and interesting. I kept watching when the Cubs were down 10-0 because I saw Rizzo on the mound - had it been (looking up who the hell is in the Cubs' pen these days)...Rex Brothers or Trevor Megill, whoever TF they are, I would have changed the channel.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: April 30, 2021 at 05:16 PM (#6016368)
Plus the gambling opportunities on PPP!!
   7. Walt Davis Posted: April 30, 2021 at 05:18 PM (#6016369)
Wasn't the "blowout" rule supposed to reduce this, not increase it. Or would we be seeing 10 a week without the rule?
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 30, 2021 at 05:44 PM (#6016374)
I don't think that rule ever went into effect, did it? Along with the "you can't have 24 pitchers on your roster" rule.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: April 30, 2021 at 06:19 PM (#6016385)
By the way Face, Brothers is one of our key relievers, not fodder. And, I was surprised to learn, from 2011-13, he was pretty effective. Then everything went south and from 2015-20 he threw just 37 ML innings (and not good ones). He had an awesome spring for the Cubs which is enough to make you the #3-4 reliever for the Cubs these days. He does have 15 Ks in 9 innings so not a disaster.

Now Trevor Megill is your standard 27-yo AAAA fodder that you expect in a blowout. (Megill might be AAA fodder.)
   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 30, 2021 at 06:23 PM (#6016387)
Rex Brothers has been pitching in the majors since 2011?? I had never heard of the guy.

I haven’t watched the Cubs much at all this year because I switched to YouTube tv when we moved to this house in fall 2019. Probably for the best.
   11. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 30, 2021 at 07:35 PM (#6016401)
Rex Brothers has been pitching in the majors since 2011?? I had never heard of the guy.


I recognize the name because his 2013 Strat-O-Matic pitching card was really good (2-1, 1.74, 19 saves in 72 games for COLORADO!) but I had no idea until today that he was still pitching in the majors.
   12. John DiFool2 Posted: April 30, 2021 at 10:19 PM (#6016431)
Wasn't the "blowout" rule supposed to reduce this, not increase it. Or would we be seeing 10 a week without the rule?

I don't think that rule ever went into effect, did it? Along with the "you can't have 24 pitchers on your roster" rule.



I would have sworn it did, given the huge thread it started here last year. Is it indeed in effect for this season?
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 30, 2021 at 10:30 PM (#6016434)
Implementation was delayed due to the pandemic.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: May 01, 2021 at 12:32 AM (#6016445)
wouldn't the absurd swing planes by fastball-seeking batters make it easier for slop tossers to have success?

remember long ago the Expos were looking at Vance Law as their designated Position Player Pitcher


good breeding - his Dad was Vernon Law, who won 162 games for the Pirates in the 1950s and 1960s (6th-most in franchise history), going a combined 38-18 in 1959-60 including winning the Cy Young Award in 1960.

(fyi, Vernon is now 91 years young)
   15. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 01, 2021 at 05:23 PM (#6016478)
What is the equivalent of using a position pitcher in other major sports?

When a team brings in a position player as a pitcher starting in the 7th inning, it is, in effect, waving a white flag. Given that there could be a good 40 minutes left in the game, what on Earth is the incentive to keep watching the game?

I mean, I guess it is a little like when an NFL team pulls their starting QB, but even that isn't as bad, for a few reasons: 1) At least it is still a f**king quarterback! And if it is a young QB, there is something entertaining as a fan to seeing a guy who could be a future starter for your team. 2) Gambling. Because of both the fantasy football consequences of how a blowout is handled, and because point spreads are such a big deal, there is a level of suspense that simply does not exist in any sport's blowouts. 3) Scarcity. As an avid NFL fan, this is the only chance you'll have to watch your team for a week - and one of only 16 (well, now 17) times the whole year you'll get to see your team play. You probably carved out time time block to watch the game, anyway, and the game is probably on during a Sunday afternoon or early evening, so it is not like most baseball games, where you actually have a chance to get more sleep if you cut out early.

I love baseball, but I am really concerned that the "gimmick" element is really increasing as a misguided response to legitimate structural problems to which MLB is struggling to respond. I think there is a smart approach to this, as somebody described the "Vance Law" idea in this thread. If baseball is going to start bringing in position players 10-20 times a year when ever it is 10-2 in the 7th inning or something, then find a guy who is basically like Brock Holt, plays all over the diamond, pitched a lot in high school and can throw 80 without too much effort, and tell them they are going to probably pitch 30 innings this year in garbage time.
   16. John Northey Posted: May 01, 2021 at 09:44 PM (#6016500)
For similar I'd guess if they ever put someone in net in a hockey game who wasn't a goalie. I still love that a Zamboni driver beat the Leafs in 2020. It was priceless - a guy who normally would be a goalie in a rec league was the emergency goalie just in case and he was needed. Normally that means you can expect a blowout, but instead he did the job and got a victory in what will be his only NHL game. He stopped 8 of 10 shots. Top goalies stop 90% of shots roughly for reference.
   17. Jay Seaver Posted: May 01, 2021 at 10:22 PM (#6016507)
What is the equivalent of using a position pitcher in other major sports?


I guess some of the extreme load management things teams have done in basketball, where stars just don't play in games toward the end of the season. I seem to recall that the NBA was trying to find ways to clamp down on that, but I don't know how well they did. Not quite the same, although it's still prizing season-level resource management over winning the game people paid money to see.

How many other sports have the sort of schedules where single games can be thrown away relatively casually? That basketball example really only seemed to happen when things were more or less decided, not earlier on when things could go either way.
   18. Zach Posted: May 02, 2021 at 02:09 AM (#6016511)
What is the equivalent of using a position pitcher in other major sports?

College basketball emptying the bench at the end of blowouts.
   19. Ron J Posted: May 02, 2021 at 07:53 AM (#6016513)
#16. Just this year the Senators had to find an emergency goalie after their starter went down in warmups and his backup got injured.

Their choice was down to their goalie coach (rejected because his career had ended due to injuries) and a forward in the press box who had last played goalie when he was 12 years old. He had to dress but wasn't forced to play.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: May 02, 2021 at 07:54 AM (#6016514)
What is the equivalent of using a position pitcher in other major sports?


In the sense of players being used in positions they're not accustomed to by the losing team, intentionally, there's nothing remotely comparable.

I think there are two prime reasons why: first, a baseball game's length is governed by outs, not time. In a blowout in the other sports, a win/loss can be managed by taking simple measures to run out the clock (and the clock itself will have moved toward the end naturally just as much in a blowout as a tight contest). There isn't that luxury in baseball.

Second, pitching is the only position that's seen as cumulatively taxing. Pitching may not be more inherently dangerous than playing any NFL position, but the next snap in the NFL isn't seen as more likely to injure/tire than the last one the way pitching is.

Resting starters (the way the NBA does with load management, or the NFL does with post-clinching in Games 15-16) may be somewhat similar, but baseball was already using that model in most cases, as few players ever participate in all 162.
   21. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: May 02, 2021 at 09:22 AM (#6016516)
College basketball emptying the bench at the end of blowouts.
This isn't done to protect the knees of the starters, though, so is a different thing. It's more like bringing in your 4th OF to get a PA or two late in a blowout.

European soccer teams often play heavily rotated sides in lesser cup competitions. In England it some teams seem to intentionally tank in the lesser of the two domestic cups (the League Cup) in order to reduce the number of games they have to play. It's like the NBA's load management, but sometimes more extreme.
   22. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 02, 2021 at 01:20 PM (#6016529)
In football we've seen it with Ray Mansfield attempting to kick FGs for the Steelers, I think it was their unfortunate 1976 post season run. Also like Theiman attempting to punt for the Redskins I think it went two yards but that was a one off thing.

Nowadays they can find replacement kickers in a day or two. I think the Steelers were somewhat old fashioned back in the day and had no one to call up.
   23. Howie Menckel Posted: May 02, 2021 at 02:04 PM (#6016533)
Theismann returned 15 punts as a rookie and third-string QB.

in the 1960s and 1970s, it wasn't that unusual for a position player to double as a punter.

Pat McInally of the Bengals was a punter who caught 57 passes in his career. Larry Seiple of the Dolphins was a fine punter and receiver/running back.

Gary Collins of the Browns in the 1960s was a good WR and the team's punter for six seasons.

Dennis Partee spent four seasons with the Chargers, late 60s/early 70s, as both the punter and the placekicker. that's a weird one - because if he pulls a hamstring in mid-game....

but the athletic punter is an unexploited opportunity. Seiple for instance a couple of times faked a punt but was not the "squirrel in traffic" sort that you see nowadays on such a play - he was a legit NFL runner.
   24. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 02, 2021 at 02:42 PM (#6016540)
Oh for a utility guy who can catch and pitch.


Bryan Holaday, who is currently in the Diamondbacks organization, is a backup catcher who has pitched five games in the majors since 2016. He's given up one home run, which was to third baseman Mitch Walding of the Phillies in 2018. That wasn't only Walding's sole career home run, it was his only career hit. Walding is 1 for 19 (.053) with 14 strikeouts, which has to be one of the worst career marks for a position player. And for his only hit to come off a catcher makes it even worse...
   25. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 02, 2021 at 03:43 PM (#6016546)
Don Cockroft was the placekicker for the Browns from 1968-1980. The first nine of those thirteen years, he was also the full-time punter.

I guess the closest thing the NFL has come to using a non-QB as a QB was this past season when the Broncos started Kendall Hinton, a practice squad wide receiver who last played QB as a junior for Wake Forest in 2018 (very very briefly) before converting to receiver for his senior season, because all 3 of Denver's rostered QB's plus their practice squad QB were covid-ineligible. In his start against the Saints, Hinton completed 1 of 9 passes for 13 yards with 2 sacks, an interception, 2 rushes for 7 yards, and a QB rating of 0.0. Denver had 6 first downs and 112 total yards of offense. New Orleans won 31-3. Denver's field goal was from 58 yards and ended a 4 play drive that gained 1 yard.
   26. Ron J Posted: May 02, 2021 at 05:41 PM (#6016555)
#23 Ray Guy was an excellent athlete. Madden specifically restricted him from attempting to make plays because he felt that even a small chance of injury was too high.

Multi-position (including kicker and other position) players were common in the CFL for about a decade and a half after they ceased to be a thing in the NFL. Smaller rosters made it tough to carry specialists. With only 10 guys on the bench you often saw things like the backup QB starting at safety.
   27. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 02, 2021 at 05:54 PM (#6016556)
Running back Tom Matte had to finish the 1965 season as the Colts quarterback, playing three games at QB after their two regular QBs were injured. The Colts won two of the three games.
   28. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 02, 2021 at 06:01 PM (#6016557)
In the MLS playoffs last season, the goalkeeper for Orlando City got a second yellow card during the penalty shootout and was disqualified. Since you can't make a substitution during the shootout, a regular player had to be used in goal for the rest of the shootout. Defender Rodrigo Schlegel got the nod, and saved a penalty kick - the subsequent Orlando City player made his, and Orlando City won the game.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: May 02, 2021 at 06:39 PM (#6016561)
These guys being mentioned are more like the emergency catcher, players thrust into action because of injury or other ways the primary position holders are unavailable.

The position player as pitcher is different because in virtually every case (save the occasional Brett Mayne type of appearance), the managers are choosing to use an out-of-position player to pitch when he has players who perform that role available. Other than as part of a gimmick (like someone was doing a Bert Campaneris-Cesar Tovar equivalent on the final day of the season), I don't think that type of deployment happens in any other sport.

   30. Brian C Posted: May 02, 2021 at 07:47 PM (#6016568)
The position player as pitcher is different because in virtually every case (save the occasional Brett Mayne type of appearance), the managers are choosing to use an out-of-position player to pitch when he has players who perform that role available. Other than as part of a gimmick (like someone was doing a Bert Campaneris-Cesar Tovar equivalent on the final day of the season), I don't think that type of deployment happens in any other sport.

I'm not sure that the wildcat packages in the NFL are a million miles away - I know coaches think that they're doing it for some kind of advantage but mostly it's just to have some random skill player run it for 2 yards and is basically a waste of down. This goes double for wildcat plays where the QB is lined up at WR, where I guess the idea is that you're making the defense think that there's some kind of gimmick Philly-special kind of play on tap, but most of the time the QB just stands there or half-heartedly pretends to run the first few steps of a route.

It's different, of course, because NFL coaches are all SUPERGENIUSES who would never never ever do something so frivolous as "waste a down" and instead it's really 11th-dimensional football chess to psyche out the opposing defenses or whatever. But in reality, most of the time it's just a dumb play with guys out of position. Sometimes it works! But also sometimes Anthony Rizzo strikes out Freddie Freeman.
   31. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 02, 2021 at 07:47 PM (#6016569)
The position player as pitcher is different because in virtually every case (save the occasional Brett Mayne type of appearance), the managers are choosing to use an out-of-position player to pitch when he has players who perform that role available. Other than as part of a gimmick (like someone was doing a Bert Campaneris-Cesar Tovar equivalent on the final day of the season), I don't think that type of deployment happens in any other sport.

When I was at Louisiana Tech in the late 80's, the women's basketball team was in a run of several consecutive Final Four appearances including a couple of national championships when they joined a new conference including a school who was fielding a women's basketball team for the first time. When they visited Tech, it went about as you might expect. Tech's starters played the first half only, but they all swapped roles. Our 6'4" 240-pound All-American center hung out on the perimeter where she knocked down a few 3's and our 5'8" 160-pound All-American point guard played the low post. The second and third team players played all the second half. Tech still won by 101 points, 126-25.
   32. Random Transaction Generator Posted: May 02, 2021 at 10:04 PM (#6016585)
The Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL had to use the Toronto Maple Leafs' 42-year-old zamboni driver as a goalie for almost half the game (29 minutes) due to a deluge of injuries to their goalies.

He let in the first two shots by the Leafs, but then stopped the remaining 8 shots and Carolina won the game.

He got a standing ovation from the Toronto fans when he was announced as the first star.
   33. baxter Posted: May 03, 2021 at 01:15 AM (#6016610)
Pat Studstill and Donny Anderson were position players who also punted.
Lou Michaels kicker/defensive end.
Lou Groza also kicker/defensive end.
Wayne Walker also defensive player/kicker

   34. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: May 03, 2021 at 01:24 AM (#6016611)
These guys being mentioned are more like the emergency catcher....


I can't even remember the last time I saw an emergency catcher.
   35. Jay Seaver Posted: May 03, 2021 at 09:00 AM (#6016628)
This ugly game last year had Tzu-Wei Lin catch when the backup catcher was used as a pitcher. When Lin pitched a month later (after having mostly played shortstop all year plus some 2nd and the outfield), I was disappointed when they couldn't find time for him at first and third in the last week.
   36. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 03, 2021 at 09:18 AM (#6016629)
I think the only example on this thread that approximates bringing a position pitcher in to pitch the 7th or 8th inning of a game is the Louisiana Tech example, because you could see people actually sort of laughing about it in real time.

This is exactly what I mean about the increased level of gimmickry in baseball as a poor response to the problems the game is facing. Look at the clip of Rizzo pitching to the Braves - Rizzo is literally giggling and smirking the whole time...it is literally a joke to the people involved. If this was the 19th inning of a game, that'd be one thing - but this is the 7th inning! It is kind of fun the first time or two you see it, but after that, it signals to us, as fans, that this game is over, and you should not bother watching the rest of it, and we are all just trying to get this over with as quickly as possible.

If this is where MLB is going, then just have a mercy rule. The point of bringing in Rizzo was to avoid using a pitcher, right? And to make sure nobody gets hurt? Well, listen to the announcers during Rizzo's appearance - they are like, "make sure you don't get nailed, Anthony!" Remember when Jose Canseco pitched an inning, and then he hurt his arm doing so?

To me, this isn't like putting in the backup quarterback...it is like putting in a defensive back who played QB in high school or something when all of your regular QBs are healthy and available. It just doesn't happen, even in a 44-0 game, because it would degrade the product.

Perhaps this bothers me, as a lifelong baseball fan, more than it should, but this communicates to the viewing public that these games just aren't that valuable. If you want to argue the opposite - that it is communicating the value of your 8th relief pitcher is so high that it is not worth using them in a blowout loss - then I guess it is absurdly-cautious managing...but it is also saying that the games themselves aren't that valuable, on a day-to-day basis. The NBA is already dealing with this lack of value of regular-season games with the increased "holding out" of start players in late-season games. It seems like baseball is increasingly acknowledging, similarly, this lack of value.
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 03, 2021 at 11:01 AM (#6016643)
You raise some fair points, but I do think you’re overreacting for one key reason: You make the blanket assertion that “the games themselves aren’t that valuable, on a day-to-day basis.” That’s a gross overstatement - the reality is that the rest of today’s game isn’t that valuable when you’re already down 10-0 in the seventh inning. Baseball acknowledging that lack of value isn’t any large threat to the overall aesthetic of the game. It’s reality, under highly limited circumstances. And even under such circumstances, teams still trot out a reliever (or parade thereof) at least half the time.
   38. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 03, 2021 at 11:07 AM (#6016644)
I think the only example on this thread that approximates bringing a position pitcher in to pitch the 7th or 8th inning of a game is the Louisiana Tech example, because you could see people actually sort of laughing about it in real time.

Oh they were. Bench players were rolling and high-5ing each other when Venus Lacy hit her first 3. They passed to her alone on the perimeter. After a few seconds of standing there, no one came out to guard her and the bench starting yelling for her to shoot. So she did. Even here, a key difference is that Tech wasn't conceding the game. They were trying to keep it as competitive as possible. If they would have played the game like they played Tennessee or Texas or any of the other national powers of the time, the final would have been something like 253-7.

Also, co-signing your "gimmickry" comments.
   39. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: May 03, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6016646)
In the MLS playoffs last season, the goalkeeper for Orlando City got a second yellow card during the penalty shootout and was disqualified. Since you can't make a substitution during the shootout, a regular player had to be used in goal for the rest of the shootout. Defender Rodrigo Schlegel got the nod, and saved a penalty kick - the subsequent Orlando City player made his, and Orlando City won the game.


If you had to sub in a non-goalkeeper, wouldn't you rather do it in the shootout, which is mostly luck anyway?
   40. Ron J Posted: May 03, 2021 at 11:39 AM (#6016648)
#39 There was one coach (I want to say Roger Neilson) who actually used a position player as a goalie in shootouts before there was a rule about it. I think the logic was that defensive players are good at 1v1 situations. They train for it. Could have just been an elaborate head game with the shooter though.

EDIT: I do know that the NHL eventually took to running any proposed rule change past Neilson. He was a genius in terms of figuring out how to exploit rules but his own integrity wouldn't permit him to lie if asked directly about something (though he'd never volunteer the info. He'd save the exploit for a key situation if not asked)
   41. Karl from NY Posted: May 03, 2021 at 03:05 PM (#6016684)
If you want to fix this in baseball: How about borrowing from cricket's follow-on rule?

If a team is up by at least 8 runs in the 7th inning or later, they can choose to have the trailing team play out their remaining batting innings before the leading team does.

Simple, gets blowout games over with, does exactly what we want to get rid of the lame-duck farce innings without affecting anything else, no major statistical fallout (not playing out some half-innings is the same as not playing the bottom of the 9th currently.)
   42. Howie Menckel Posted: May 03, 2021 at 04:09 PM (#6016691)
(I want to say Roger Neilson)

Neilson is the only coach or manager I ever came across who would have his dog - Labrador retriever, iirc - sitting at his feet as he did post-practice interviews. also as smart a man who ever served as a leader of athletes.

it was a shame that he and Mark Messier clashed, because each was a delight to deal with. so Neilson had to go - and a year+ later, the Rangers won the Stanley Cup under Mike Keenan.

that ended a 54-year drought for the Rangers - who are now halfway toward reach that mark once again

but enough about blowouts and sports
   43. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: May 03, 2021 at 09:04 PM (#6016733)
Teams should utilize the forfeit option if they're really not concerned about the remainder of a game. I realize they won't do this because then the perception issue that Balboni's Trainer mentioned comes up, that doing so "communicates to the viewing public that these games just aren't that valuable." While I agree with ElRoy's Face that teams are really saying "the rest of today’s game isn’t that valuable," either way it's a perception issue of throwing in the towel, directly (forfeiting) or indirectly (position player pitching).

As is, the easiest way within the rules to forfeit is "when a team is unable or refuses to place nine players on the field." But if there were a league-issued method for forfeiting, aka the manager telling it to the ump just like an automatic walk, maybe the perception would change over time. Of course, in the interim we'll have to hear people complain about what real men do and people not getting their full money's worth, but that will all diminish over time, too.
   44. Brian C Posted: May 03, 2021 at 10:09 PM (#6016745)
Personally I think if I were a manager, I'd save the position-player pitcher until I was down way more than 10-0. A ten-run deficit in the 7th is a lot, and to be sure, a team in that position will lose the overwhelming amount of the time ... but teams score 10 runs over 2 innings with some frequency. Not like every day obviously, but it happens enough that I think I'd still be trying to win the game in the 7th inning.

If I was down 16-0 ... then maybe it's time to lighten the mood a little and throw some guys a bone. But 10-0 seems, I dunno, indulgent I guess.
   45. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 04, 2021 at 09:32 AM (#6016796)
But if there were a league-issued method for forfeiting, aka the manager telling it to the ump just like an automatic walk, maybe the perception would change over time. Of course, in the interim we'll have to hear people complain about what real men do and people not getting their full money's worth, but that will all diminish over time, too.

As long as performance-based bonuses remain in contracts, the players should fight any attempt by management to arbitrarily shorten games. (Understanding that seven-inning doubleheaders are an exceptional case that should go away once pandemic restrictions subside.)
   46. Karl from NY Posted: May 04, 2021 at 12:07 PM (#6016832)
MLB contracts don't allow performance-based bonuses, because the conditions around them can be so easily manipulated. And to avoid situations like a player trying to hit a HR for his incentive when all you need is a single to win the game. Playing time conditions are allowed (games, PA, IP), and sometimes do come under controversy if it seems a team is trying to manipulate it.
   47. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: May 04, 2021 at 12:18 PM (#6016835)
Playing time conditions are allowed (games, PA, IP), and sometimes do come under controversy if it seems a team is trying to manipulate it.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking when I typed it. Shortening games could potentially affect players' abilities to reach bonus or contract vesting clauses based on playing time, games finished, etc.

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