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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

‘Strategy Is Sacred’: MLB Managers Weigh in on New Pitching Rule

SAN DIEGO — The Big 3 free-agent sweepstakes, the Astros sign-stealing investigation and the election of two new Hall of Famers dominated the news cycle at last week’s Winter Meetings.

And in the same press conference that he addressed these page-one topics, commissioner Rob Manfred said he expects the proposed rule changes from last offseason will be implemented for the 2020 season, among them a three-batter minimum rule for pitchers per appearance unless they record the last out of an inning first.

These new rules also include adding a 26th man to the active roster, limiting roster expansion in September to 28 players and returning the duration a player must spend on the injured list from 10 to 15 days.

All of the changes will impact every team but none has the potential to affect the game quite like the three-batter minimum. The purpose of the rule is to eliminate some of the inaction that comes with every manager stroll out to the mound, every jog (or cart ride) in the from the bullpen and every set of warm-up pitches thrown before play resumes. How much dead time this rule will actually slash is debatable—relief appearances of one or two batters hit an 11-year low in 2019, in part because analytics has de-emphasized platoon pitching matchups—but there’s no question that it limits how managers can use their pitching staff each game.

In case any of you were wondering why more substantive change in MLB seems to be impossible…..

 

QLE Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:57 AM | 186 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: managers, pitching change, rule changes

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   1. The Duke Posted: December 18, 2019 at 10:06 AM (#5909494)
A lot of whinging and hand-wringing. The biggest threat to relief pitchers health is manager abuse of the hot hand. The game is slow, slow, slow and all this substitution stuff is nonsense.

But slow games have a ton of causes. If you really want to speed up games just call all foul balls as strikes even in two-strike counts. Get rid of most of the replays, and enforce the pitch clocks and keeping batters in the box.

The slow playoff games are a function of more commercials - good luck getting rid of them
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 10:12 AM (#5909496)
“I don't like it,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I haven't liked it from the beginning.”
The worst managerer of them all (except for maybe Bochy) is ########? I'm shocked. Shocked, I say.
He said he’s all for trying to speed up the pace of the game, so long as it doesn’t change the way it’s played.
Yep. More of the "I acknowledge that pace is a problem, and I fully support *other* people changing the way they behave" crap.

STFU.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 18, 2019 at 10:15 AM (#5909497)
“Pace and length of the game, I think, are interconnected, but strategy is sacred.”

Could Maddon be a bigger jerk?

No you idiot. The world changes; good strategy is being able to adapt. A good baseball strategist would adapt to the new rules, and be confident he'll adapt faster and better than others.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 10:43 AM (#5909515)
The effect of this rule will be small.

But unlike the IBB rule, it's a good start. Second mid-inning pitching changes may not be plentiful, but they're a horrible drag on pace when they happen. And I'm guessing they happen with greater frequency in the postseason, when more eyeballs are on the game.

   5. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5909517)
I agree with Maddon. I don't like the new rule, which seems to me a significant departure from baseball tradition.

The pace of the game - that is, the long pauses between pitches - is THE problem, and it's so obviously THE problem that every brain cell devoted on some ancillary roundabout way of addressing it is a brain cell wasted.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5909518)
And I do admit that the OOGY appearances can be particularly frustrating and so while I don't like the rule, I will be happy when it does make games go faster.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:03 AM (#5909528)
I agree with Maddon. I don't like the new rule, which seems to me a significant departure from baseball tradition.


Before Cox/LaRussa and the introduction of the OOGY, was there a strong tradition of pitchers throwing to one or two batters in the middle of an inning and then getting yanked? I find it unlikely.
   8. Brian Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5909529)
One problem will be if a pitcher feels a twinge in his arm facing Batter #1. The decision to put him on the 15 day IL will have to be made on the mound by the pitching coach,manager and trainer. Will pitchers be reluctant to even mention it? Will managers make the correct call knowing it's a 15 day absence? A relievers arm gets tired one day and he's looking at a 15 game IL trip ... could be messy.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5909530)
so while I don't like the rule, I will be happy when it does make games go faster.
So you do like the rule.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:05 AM (#5909532)
Before Cox/LaRussa and the introduction of the OOGY, was there a strong tradition of pitchers throwing to one or two batters in the middle of an inning and then getting yanked? I find it unlikely.

Exactly.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5909536)

One problem will be if a pitcher feels a twinge in his arm facing Batter #1. The decision to put him on the 15 day IL will have to be made on the mound by the pitching coach,manager and trainer. Will pitchers be reluctant to even mention it? Will managers make the correct call knowing it's a 15 day absence? A relievers arm gets tired one day and he's looking at a 15 game IL trip ... could be messy.


I've always believed any pitcher that gets pulled from a game with any kind of injury should be forced to sit (I think the 15 days is excessive, but there should be some kind of down time before getting back on the mound).
   12. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:25 AM (#5909542)
So you do like the rule.


No.

Before Cox/LaRussa and the introduction of the OOGY, was there a strong tradition of pitchers throwing to one or two batters in the middle of an inning and then getting yanked? I find it unlikely.


No. I don't mean that the OOGY is a great tradition, but rather that this seems like a significant rule change, which is rare.
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:27 AM (#5909544)
The inability to make rule changes* is what got us here in the first place. It shouldn’t be celebrated as a reason to stay here.

*And to make policy changes to enforce existing rules, which is the same thing in practice.
   14. Baldrick Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5909546)
One problem will be if a pitcher feels a twinge in his arm facing Batter #1. The decision to put him on the 15 day IL will have to be made on the mound by the pitching coach,manager and trainer. Will pitchers be reluctant to even mention it? Will managers make the correct call knowing it's a 15 day absence? A relievers arm gets tired one day and he's looking at a 15 game IL trip ... could be messy.

Well it's 10 days now. And given the fungibility of relievers, sparing a guy for 10 days just doesn't seem like that big a deal. If it was significant enough to pull him, you weren't going to send him back out for at least a couple days anyway, just to be safe.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:34 AM (#5909549)
I think they changed it back to 15 days for pitchers. But yeah, if a guy is hurt enough not to be able to face two more batters, he’s hurt enough to take a couple weeks off.
   16. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:36 AM (#5909550)
I might be more into the idea if I felt that it would have a dramatic effect on speeding games. But it won't.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 11:39 AM (#5909552)

I might be more into the idea if I felt that it would have a dramatic effect on speeding games. But it won't.


If it doesn't have a dramatic effect on speeding games, it also won't have a dramatic effect on stategerizing from Messrs Maddon and co.
   18. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5909561)
True.
   19. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5909562)
Meaningless rule change that will accomplish zero.

The culture of baseball is to be slow and boring. The culture of some other sports is to be fast.

Baseball could choose a culture change.

Baseball is choosing to die.

   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:07 PM (#5909564)
The culture of baseball is to be slow and boring.

Only since the 90's. Games used to be much faster.
   21. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:09 PM (#5909566)
If it doesn't have a dramatic effect on speeding games, it also won't have a dramatic effect on stategerizing from Messrs Maddon and co.
But it at least starts to introduce the concept of managers (and, we can only hope, someday players) not getting to do whatever they believe is advantageous regardless of its effect on the entertainment value of the game. That's not much, but it's something.
   22. RoyalFlush Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:15 PM (#5909569)
The worst manager of them all (except for maybe Bochy)


Do you mean Maddon and Bochy are the worst for pitching changes? I always think of Francona as being the most "active" when it comes to pitching changes.
   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:19 PM (#5909572)
Could be. I tend to watch more NL games.
   24. base ball chick Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:28 PM (#5909582)
Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5909562)
Meaningless rule change that will accomplish zero.

The culture of baseball is to be slow and boring. The culture of some other sports is to be fast.

Baseball could choose a culture change.

Baseball is choosing to die


- it won't die as long as there are rich white kidz in the burbs in travel teams, and of course, importing of cheap labor of Those Icky Hispanicks

there are still tons of income streams as long as there are cable deals, corporate sponsors and corporation suites where the people in them don't bother to watch the game anyway

the owners KNOW they can have basically nobody in the stands and still make millions

- if they really want the games faster, enforce the already in place pitch clock rule and stop letting guys step out of the box
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:37 PM (#5909589)
But it at least starts to introduce the concept of managers (and, we can only hope, someday players) not getting to do whatever they believe is advantageous regardless of its effect on the entertainment value of the game. That's not much, but it's something.


True.

Now, we just have to convince pitchers and hitters that the time we'd like to take away from you post-pitch is just as much a problem or more to the other guy.


   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:48 PM (#5909592)
Now, we just have to convince pitchers and hitters that the time we'd like to take away from you post-pitch is just as much a problem or more to the other guy.
As this article shows, this sort of change is never going to come through persuasion. It's only going to happen by either Manfred growing a pair or when there is enough of a loss of interest to force the owners to take action, at which point it will be too late.
   27. Rusty Priske Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:50 PM (#5909594)
I do think strategy is important. That is why I support the rule change.

Now managers will have to actually think strategically instead of just switching pitchers every time a new batter steps in.

Think ahead and plan.

And if a pitcher can only get out one batter at a time, they shouldn't be in the major leagues.
   28. Brian Posted: December 18, 2019 at 12:56 PM (#5909597)
It's 15 again. A decision that had been previously made by medical professionals after whatever x-rays or MRI they need is now going to be made by a few 50-something year old guys with no medical knowledge and a personal interest in not losing the pitcher for an upcoming series against a rival. Not an improvement.
   29. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5909599)
If a pitcher is close enough to a serious injury that facing two more batters would put him over the edge, that injury was going to happen in his next outing anyway.
   30. KronicFatigue Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:18 PM (#5909605)
Biggest problems, IMO.

1) Delay between pitches, both by the pitcher and batter. Grip it and rip it, on both ends.
2) Too many TTO. Expand the strikezone and lower the mound. Make pitching and hitting both harder, so again, they both grip it and rip it.
3) Commercials are too long. Not going to change. Well maybe it will change now that we've broken the barrier with in-game commercials.
4) Too many pitching changes. This rule works, but it's not going to save that much time compared to 1 and 2.

Count all foul balls as strikes? Yikes. I think one of my FAVORITE things in all of baseball is a guy fighting off strike 3 with a bunch of fouls and then eventually getting a hit.
   31. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:42 PM (#5909613)
Now, we just have to convince pitchers and hitters that the time we'd like to take away from you post-pitch is just as much a problem or more to the other guy.


I'd love to see you try and patiently explain this to some actual major leaguers.
   32. JAHV Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5909615)
I find myself with PreservedFish on this one. Games are too long and that needs to be fixed. This will probably help a little, but I don't think it will have a significant impact in that regard. And I don't like the restriction of strategy.

I would much rather change the dimensions of the game (pitcher's mound height/distance, base length, time restrictions on pitch delivery), which don't seem nearly as sacred to me as dictating when and how a manager can manage. I also don't have any problems with roster restrictions. I don't mind mid-inning pitching changes when they make sense. But they'd make sense a lot less if you only had 10 or 11 pitchers on the roster, which was reasonable up until 15 years ago. I would rather see Manfred take THAT away from teams. But I have a feeling that would be a huge player's association issue.

I'm not passionate about this; I don't like it, but it's not going to make me rage-quit baseball. It will happen. It will shave something like 30 seconds off the average game time. Announcers will talk about it for a couple months like it's a big deal and then no one will notice until it comes up again in a close playoff game, at which point one side or the other will scream about how terrible it is. But at the end of the day, that playoff game will still last 4 hours because we haven't addressed the actual pace of play issue. And the game will still be devoid of action because we'll get 3 batters at a time of recently called up fire-balling relievers either walking guys or striking them out.
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:52 PM (#5909619)
I'd love to see you try and patiently explain this to some actual major leaguers.

Just enforce the rule; they'll figure it out within 2 weeks.
   34. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:52 PM (#5909620)
Count all foul balls as strikes? Yikes. I think one of my FAVORITE things in all of baseball is a guy fighting off strike 3 with a bunch of fouls and then eventually getting a hit.


If there's one thing baseball needs right now, it's to increase strikeouts by 50% all at once!
   35. Blastin Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:54 PM (#5909622)
base length


Yikes!

If there's one thing baseball needs right now, it's to increase strikeouts by 50% all at once!


This is the worst idea altogether.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:54 PM (#5909623)
And I don't like the restriction of strategy.

I actually do like the restriction. I want to see the players play, not the managers manage.

I think RPs in general detract from the entertainment value of baseball. When the best 6 pitchers on your team threw 90% of all important innings, that was more appealing than the current procession of randos.
   37. jmurph Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5909624)
Agree with PF and JAHV, and furthermore, those of you in the "this probably won't make a difference but I like it anyway, screw overmanagers and OOGYs" camp are getting into kind of a weird territory.
   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:57 PM (#5909626)
furthermore, those of you in the "this probably won't make a difference but I like it anyway, screw overmanagers and OOGYs" camp are getting into kind of a weird territory.
How so?
   39. jmurph Posted: December 18, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5909628)
It's just curmudgeonly, I don't like it, that's a paddlin' territory. I don't think you're monsters or anything (other than snapper, obviously, it's right there in his handle).
   40. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5909632)
I would argue that "managers should get to do whatever strategery they durn well please, I don't care if it wastes everyone's time" is the more curmudgeonly take.
   41. Blastin Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:02 PM (#5909634)
I think OOGYs are dumb. I don't really care about it being a rule, but OOGYs are just dumb.
   42. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:05 PM (#5909636)
I would argue that "managers should get to do whatever strategery they durn well please, I don't care if it wastes everyone's time" is the more curmudgeonly take.


Yes.

But it remains true that for every minute of our time managers waste, players waste twenty.
   43. jmurph Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:06 PM (#5909638)
I would argue that "managers should get to do whatever strategery they durn well please, I don't care if it wastes everyone's time" is the more curmudgeonly take.

But, crucially for the sake of this discussion, a. no one thinks that and b. this particular thing doesn't actually waste everyone's time.
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:15 PM (#5909643)
a. no one thinks that
Well, people are arguing against even this very small restriction.
b. this particular thing doesn't actually waste everyone's time.
Sure it does. Not terribly often, as has been shown, but it's aesthetically awful when it does. Maybe I should have phrased it as "causes an annoying interruption that makes key moments of the game far less enjoyable."
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:16 PM (#5909644)
But it remains true that for every minute of our time managers waste, players waste twenty.
Yeah, I think everyone here can agree that the real progress will only come with pitch clock + stay in box.
   46. Blastin Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:19 PM (#5909646)
causes an annoying interruption that makes key moments of the game far less enjoyable."


I find shaking people off, talking, shaking off, discussion to be far more annoying. THROW THE BALL.
   47. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:23 PM (#5909650)
While we're here I wouldn't mind unsuccessful pickoff attempts (including stepping off without throwing) being assessed the same penalty as unsuccessful pitches: a ball.
   48. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:26 PM (#5909651)
While we're here I wouldn't mind unsuccessful pickoff attempts (including stepping off without throwing) being assessed the same penalty as unsuccessful pitches: a ball.
Yes to this too, 100%. Maybe give one free throw.
   49. The Run Fairy Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:26 PM (#5909652)
Do you mean Maddon and Bochy are the worst for pitching changes? I always think of Francona as being the most "active" when it comes to pitching changes.


Baseball Reference has a stat for that, hidden in the manager pages. Maddon's slightly above-average in terms of pitching changes (103 in pitchers/game+ last year, and 103 for his entire career), Francona's been below average his last three years (97. 96, 97), Bochy is perfectly average in his career and has been 96, 100, and 105 over the past four years.

Leader last year was Alex Cora at 4.9 pitchers/game or 112+. Then there's a big clump of guys (Cash, Ausmus, Montoyo, Black, Bochy, Counsell, Gardenhire) who are pretty much tied. Lowest was AJ Hinch at 92+/4.0 pitchers/game, with Woodward and Mickey Callaway at 4.1/93.

   50. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5909655)
That would seem to map in a more than superficial way to how many good starting pitchers you have.

Not too long ago, as a kind of bridge between the death of the Long Reliever and where we've gotten to today, managers and broadcasters used to talk about the Bullpen Game: if there's a doubleheader, if today's starting pitcher came up lame yesterday, if it's an all-hands-on-deck playoff elimination game, you'd here "today's going to be a bullpen game." Now EVERY game that isn't started by a Cy Young contender is a bullpen game. If the starter's still there when the sixth inning begins, he's had a good day.
   51. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:31 PM (#5909656)
Maddon's slightly above-average in terms of pitching changes (103 in pitchers/game+ last year, and 103 for his entire career)
I can guarantee you he's by far the league leader in mind-bogglingly unnecessary pitching changes. Up by 7, two outs, ninth inning? Here comes Joe out of the dugout...
   52. Sunday silence Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:35 PM (#5909657)
I keep thinking back to the idea that if baseball was played at a faster pace, there wouldnt be time to make all these pitching changes. For one thing there wouldnt be all that much time to warm up a pitcher if the guy on the mound is taking 10 sec. between pitches. BUt also there's a reaction time in the managers head where he has to figure out who to bring in, what if anything he wants do about pinch hitting in the next frame, how much time does it take to do that?

There must be some sort of symbiotic relationship between the two (pace of game/pitching changes). Its seems like the kind of thing that developed over the years with both of these factors playing into each other. Of course LaRUssa brought it to its pinnacle.

So IDEALLY fix the pace of play first, and pitching changes and those issues will take care of themselves.

OTOH the proposed changes will make LOOGYs somewhat more rare. CUtting the roster to 13 pitchers will have to do that,I would think.

SO I agree w/ PF: I hate the rule from an academic stand point, I like the ability for a manager to make more changes. Anything that allows more choices should create more strategy. But OTOH the reality is that this rule will bring back PH and PRs onto the roster and baseball really needs that.
   53. Sunday silence Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:48 PM (#5909660)
Oh and we really need to do a pool for "On what date to fans of team X go apeshit because reliever guy clearly didnt have it, but because of that dumb new rule he had to stay out there and get clobbered?"

We could make it real analytical too. LIke it tie to say "story produces at least 500 posts on Reddit's baseball board;" or it makes top ten Yahoo baseball stories. Right? Cause you know that's going to happen.

I'm taking the day May 15. Who is in on this?

   54. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: December 18, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5909661)
When the best 6 pitchers on your team threw 90% of all important innings, that was more appealing than the current procession of randos.


You're right, of course, but those days aren't coming back.

Yeah, I think everyone here can agree that the real progress will only come with pitch clock + stay in box.


Nailed it. There would be no need for rule changes like this one if the pitch clock rule was enforced.
   55. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 18, 2019 at 03:23 PM (#5909668)
The pitch clock is of very little use if we don't also make the batters stay in the box (which, to repeat for the millionth time on this site, is already the rule and has been for a hundred years).

This is what I don't quite understand: in this case, if MLB chose to instruct the umpires to refuse to grant time-out to the batter for any reason short of him being on fire and to call a strike if both his feet aren't in the box when the pitcher delivers, the MLBPA can't do jack-#### about it, because the rule is already in the book. Now MLB is understandably leery of picking a needless fight with the MLBPA, and the MLBPA could choose to make a big issue of it at the next CBA negotiation--but, IMO, at bargainin' time, ultimately there's no way the MLBPA will concede a dime of actual money to recover their god-given right to waste fans' time getting into their Zen Place after every pitch.

But there must be something about this that I don't understand--perhaps the players ARE prepared to die on that hill and have made it known they'll strike as long as they have to to stop MLB from revoking their dicking-around privileges--because it seems like MLB is doing everything they can think of, tinkering with myriad little rules here and there, to remove dead time from the games--everything, that is, EXCEPT making the pitchers pitch and the batters stay in the box. Which is mystifying because (1) that is 90% of the problem, and (2) on paper it's an easier fix than almost everything else they've done or are talking about doing.
   56. Blastin Posted: December 18, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5909672)
Yes to this too, 100%. Maybe give one free throw.


Yes, bullshit pickoff throws are dumb. You get one, then if you do it again you get a ball unless it's actually a pickoff.
   57. Sunday silence Posted: December 18, 2019 at 03:34 PM (#5909675)
Primates in complete agreement. We have achieved Nirvana.
   58. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 03:35 PM (#5909676)
While we're here I wouldn't mind unsuccessful pickoff attempts (including stepping off without throwing) being assessed the same penalty as unsuccessful pitches: a ball.


Great. On April 1, literally every team sets the new record for "stare at the runner, stare at the runner, stare at the runner, step off" events.

   59. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 18, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5909677)
Great. On April 1, literally every team sets the new record for "stare at the runner, stare at the runner, stare at the runner, step off" events.


I'm not following. Under the rule I described, that would result in a ball being awarded, either for failing to pitch on time or for stepping off without picking off the runner. Those, along with repeated pointless tosses over to first because the pitcher doesn't feel like pitching just yet, are exactly what the rule would cut out of the game.

The runner would be aware of the pitch clock too, which would encourage the pitcher to deliver with a few seconds to spare, lest the runner get a perfectly timed jump on him. This too would be a Good Thing.
   60. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 03:41 PM (#5909679)
I missed your comment in #47. I do think that rules against pickoff throws have a danger of unintended consequences. But of course the bullshit pickoff throw is terrible so I support the effort to eliminate it.

The runner would be aware of the pitch clock too, which would encourage the pitcher to deliver with a few seconds to spare, lest the runner get a perfectly timed jump on him. This too would be a Good Thing.

Strongly agree. Over the years I've changed from being anti pitch clock to 100% in favor of it.
   61. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5909680)
Which is mystifying because (1) that is 90% of the problem, and (2) on paper it's an easier fix than almost everything else they've done or are talking about doing.
It's mystifying only because you're operating under the assumption that Manfred has genitals. He's conceded to the false premise that pace of play is subject to collective bargaining, and he lacks the feck to make any waves with the players. And the players, meanwhile, hue and cry and obstruct everything in the name of leverage.

Great. On April 1, literally every team sets the new record for "stare at the runner, stare at the runner, stare at the runner, step off" events.
See the original post - step offs count as a ball too.
   62. cookiedabookie Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:00 PM (#5909684)
It's a solution looking for a problem. And this will not have any significant reduction in game time. Make the batters stay in the box, enforce it with a called strike if they step out. And institute a pitch clock (pitch time is already in the rules). Those are the type of changes that will reduce game time.
   63. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:13 PM (#5909689)
Pitching changes are horribly boring. It's 2 minutes of literally nothing happening. Even if it doesn't speed up the game in actual time I am in favor of just eliminating that dead time.
   64. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:14 PM (#5909692)
Also, this makes strategy more important not less. Bringing in the lefty to face the lefty then taking him out and bringing in a righty to face a righty then yanking that guy and bringing in a new lefty to face the next lefty isn't strategy, it's something a computer can be programmed to do. That's just rote programming, not actual decision making.
   65. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:25 PM (#5909695)
Yes to this too, 100%. Maybe give one free throw.


Now this is something I don't want to see. Pickoff attempts offer the opportunity for an exciting play. Don't mess with that.

   66. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:30 PM (#5909697)
Pickoff attempts offer the opportunity for an exciting play. Don't mess with that.
If a guy is leading off too far, then you can use your throw. That's the potentially exciting play. This just eliminates the rote "checking on the runner" BS, which is never exciting. Pitchers will only throw over if they have a real chance of getting the runner.
   67. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:40 PM (#5909699)
If a guy is leading off too far, then you can use your throw. That's the potentially exciting play. This just eliminates the rote "checking on the runner" BS, which is never exciting. Pitchers will only throw over if they have a real chance of getting the runner.


And if they fail once, then it's an automatic stolen base, or whatever gimmick penalty you have. No thank you.

   68. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:46 PM (#5909701)
or whatever gimmick penalty you have.


Remove one article of clothing.
   69. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:48 PM (#5909702)
And if they fail once, then it's an automatic stolen base, or whatever gimmick penalty you have. No thank you.
Not true - even if they've used their unsuccessful throw, if a runner takes too much of a lead, they can still throw over and get the out. They just have to be successful. But a runner couldn't just take off.

And hey, if it does enable more of the running game, that's a feature, not a bug. Less TTO, more motion and excitement.
   70. Rennie's Tenet Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:55 PM (#5909705)
There must be some sort of symbiotic relationship between the two (pace of game/pitching changes).


Yeah, they're being coached to put full effort into every pitch, which involves stalling until you feel fresh again. Then a lot of guys will be limited to an inning because they can't go full blast longer than that.
   71. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:57 PM (#5909706)
Not true - even if they've used their unsuccessful throw, if a runner takes too much of a lead, they can still throw over and get the out.


So then you'd get the automatic stolen base. OK.

And hey, if it does enable more of the running game, that's a feature, not a bug. Less TTO, more motion and excitement.


The running game is exciting if there's a threat of being put out. The give the guy second because you're not holding him on in the late innings of a 2-run game is not an exciting play.

Obviously, there's some support for this, and always has been. I think it would be a mistake. But I've always balked at solutions to pace that take away baseball plays, even the rote ones (the no-pitch IBB, this, even outlawing the fake to third, throw to first one).
   72. Walt Davis Posted: December 18, 2019 at 04:59 PM (#5909708)
Before Cox/LaRussa and the introduction of the OOGY, was there a strong tradition of pitchers throwing to one or two batters in the middle of an inning and then getting yanked? I find it unlikely.

No but mid-inning pitching changes were reasonably common.** It's why they were called "firemen." In Goassage's greatest season, he entered mid-inning in all but one of his appearances. What you almost never saw was the 2-change inning. And I would guess that nearly all the time when you saw multiple relievers, it was after the first reliever had been pinch-hit for.

On curmudgeonly, I think we can agree I'm an expert. The issue is that the reason the manager is changing pitchers is because he believes it will lead to fewer runs and improve his team's chances of winning. Getting rid of such maneuvers can be worth it but getting rid of it has to accomplish something. That's the issue here -- how much time will the new rule save? Why restrict a manager's options if it doesn't actually accomplish anything (or very little)?

Of course closing one strategic window just opens a new strategic window -- Maddon now has to decide which pitcher is the best to use for the next 3 batters and even if that decreases his chances of winning today, the other team will be in this position tomorrow and he'll get that advantage back. If he was better at making the R-L-R pitching decisions, he should be better at making the 3-batter pitcher decisions.

I am curious to see how this is going to work out once there are 2 outs in an inning. If a big LHB is coming up in a close game, runner on first, I'm probably still going to my LHP. If he doesn't get this guy, I'm probably in trouble but that's true no matter my pitcher choice so might as well go with the guy most likely to get him out. Alternatively, if 1B is open, maybe I just IBB him if the next batter is RHB. That's one of the reasons the effect may not be very big.

** Not as common as now, they were up about 1 per game (not team-game) a few years ago, may have dropped back a bit the last couple of seasons.
   73. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5909709)
And hey, if it does enable more of the running game, that's a feature, not a bug. Less TTO, more motion and excitement.


Strongly agree. "Man, I can't stand all these stolen bases" said no one ever, not even in the 1980s.

Here's a thought--if you're penalizing the pitcher for unsuccessfully trying to pick off a runner, you don't really need a balk rule anymore.

Let the pitcher straight-up fake a pitch if he wants to; if he does and can't get the runner out, award a ball, play on.
   74. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:01 PM (#5909710)
No but mid-inning pitching changes were reasonably common.**


But mid-inning pitching changes won't be affected by this. Only the second mid-inning pitching change.
   75. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:04 PM (#5909712)
Here's a thought--if you're penalizing the pitcher for unsuccessfully trying to pick off a runner, you don't really need a balk rule anymore.

Let the pitcher straight-up fake a pitch if he wants to; if he does and can't get the runner out, award a ball, play on.


Here's a guess: you probably haven't thought this thought all the way through.
   76. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:08 PM (#5909715)
SoSH U is almost always right about this kind of stuff.
   77. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:10 PM (#5909716)
edit: I'm probably not in time removing this before someone quotes it, but I don't want to hijack the thread with this stuff. I'm a radical and should keep my radical opinions to myself, at least on this site. :)

The only part I'll leave in is this: penalizing pitchers for failing to throw out runners will most certainly not lead to "automatic" stolen bases, except maybe for the very fastest, 80-speed guys--and if that encourages teams to carry a pinch runner, all the better.
   78. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:15 PM (#5909718)

SoSH U is almost always right about this kind of stuff.



I don't know about that. But I do appreciate the battle between a pitcher and a good basestealer, and wouldn't like to mess with it. Sure, the step off and throw easy over to first pickoff is annoying if done regularly, or without purpose, but if you've got a guy with a good move and a baserunner who wants to go, then the throws over (particularly when the pitcher is able to set up the baserunner with a few perfunctory throws and then getting him with the good move) to be pretty interesting. I find this cat-and-mouse similar to the long at bat with a lot of foul balls. It's good baseball between two people who aren't giving in. That's just not something worth giving up to shave some time.

   79. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:16 PM (#5909719)
So then you'd get the automatic stolen base. OK.
How does it possibly result in an automatic stolen base? The possibility of a pickoff throw is still there if the runner goes too far too soon.
   80. manchestermets Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:16 PM (#5909720)
Not true - even if they've used their unsuccessful throw, if a runner takes too much of a lead, they can still throw over and get the out.



So then you'd get the automatic stolen base. OK.


That doesn't follow. How is this automatic stolen base supposed to happen? If the runner takes a 10 foot lead, there's still nothing to prevent the pitcher throwing them out.
   81. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:18 PM (#5909721)
Sure, the step off and throw easy over to first pickoff is annoying if done regularly, or without purpose
Which is what, 93 percent of the time?
   82. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:20 PM (#5909723)
Well, while you'd obviously lose the exciting multiple throw-over battle (which is very rare IMO), what you might end up with are tons of very short pickoff battles.

The pickoff throw would become kind of a nuclear option, only used in the response to the biggest, most reckless, most daring leads. And because an unsuccessful pickoff throw carries such a huge penalty (almost conceding a SB), every baserunner, the fat and the lithe alike, would have a tremendous incentive to bait the pitcher into throwing one.

I still think there's major unintended consequence issues here, but there's definitely a chance it makes the game more exciting.
   83. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:21 PM (#5909724)
(virtually conceding a SB)
Again...as several people have asked - how??
   84. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:22 PM (#5909725)
That doesn't follow. How is this automatic stolen base supposed to happen? If the runner takes a 10 foot lead, there's still nothing to prevent the pitcher throwing them out.


If you're not outright prohibiting the pitcher from making a third throw, then it's not an automatic SB, it's either an automatic walk or an automatic SB. I'm not sure that's better.

Hey, if some minor league wants to give this a try, I wouldn't have an objection (it's better than allowing batters to run any time the ball gets past the catcher. Also better than eliminating most of the minor leagues). I don't think it will lead to a better game.

   85. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:23 PM (#5909726)
If you're not prohibiting the pitcher from making a third throw, then it's not an automatic SB, it's just an automatic walk. I'm not sure that's better.
No, the successful pickoff attempt doesn't count as a ball.
   86. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:29 PM (#5909728)
No, the successful pickoff attempt doesn't count as a ball.


But you won't always get him. Which will mean you won't throw it over (significantly upping already-high SB success rates/or you will fall even further behind, leading to more walks. And sometimes, you'll get him.

But if baseball want to give this idea a whirl in the Atlantic League, they ought to try it. I doubt it will produce a better game.


   87. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:30 PM (#5909729)
I think a lot of the attraction of baseball is about tension, which is why the endless watching players standing around is so maddening--it dissipates the tension.

Fast runner on first, the pitcher throws over, just barely safe. Now they both know if the pitcher tries to pick the runner off again and fails again, it's a ball. The runner perhaps takes an extra half-step, maybe about to steal, or maybe twitching and trying to bait the pitcher into throwing over again. There's a lot of tension in that--even more tension than normal.

But the other reason a small penalty for failing to pick a runner off won't lead to easy stolen bases is simpler to grasp: this is Major League Baseball we're talking about. Fast runners are already taking the longest lead, every possible inch, they dare to take. Even if they aren't planning to steal, they want the pitcher's attention; fast runners pride themselves on distracting pitchers. If the pitcher tries to pick them off and fails, they won't take an extra step more than they already do, because if they do, they'll be picked off. Easily.

Realistically, in modern baseball genuine pitcher-runner battles involving multiple serious attempts to pick the runner off are already extremely rare. Pitchers stepping off/throwing over six times in an at-bat just because they don't feel 100% "right" is extremely common.
   88. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:35 PM (#5909730)
Fast runner on first, the pitcher throws over, just barely safe. Now they both know if the pitcher tries to pick the runner off again and fails again, it's a ball. The runner perhaps takes an extra half-step, maybe about to steal, or maybe twitching and trying to bait the pitcher into throwing over again. There's a lot of tension in that--even more tension than normal.
Exactly. The real cat-and-mouse game would be in the game theory calculation around the risk/reward for pitcher and runner about lead vs. throw. Not the lazy rote stuff we have 93+ percent of the time now.
   89. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:36 PM (#5909731)
Realistically, in modern baseball genuine pitcher-runner battles involving multiple serious attempts to pick the runner off are already extremely rare. Pitchers stepping off/throwing over six times in an at-bat just because they don't feel 100% "right" is extremely common.
Yep. It's far more often a stall tactic than an actual baseball play.
   90. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:36 PM (#5909733)
The irony is that if it leads to more runs as cr*ppy relievers struggle against batsman #2 and #3 won't that lengthen the game? Aren't higher scoring games longer?

This doesn't need to be complex to solve the slow play issues. As mentioned above,

Get the ball, throw the ball, stay in the batters box. Limit time between pitches. Done

Mark Buehrle an MLB nation turns it's lonely eyes to you....
   91. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:38 PM (#5909735)
Again...as several people have asked - how??


First of all, all baserunners will take larger leads, because all pitchers will be more hesitant to throw over. And they'll take even bigger leads after that first throw. As baseball is a game of inches, this will be significant.

More importantly, once the one freebie pickoff throw has been used up, there will almost never be a planned pickoff throw. (They'll be about as common as pitch-outs). Most 2nd pickoffs will be split-second decisions, responses to motion by the runner.

The problem is that many pitchers, including almost all righties, are basically incapable of making a split-second pickoff in response to a runner going. So you can run on a righty the moment he begins his motion, and if you're fast at all, you have a 95% chance of taking second base. The only chance the defense has of getting him is by calling for a planned pickoff. This will be rare.

But I am open to the possibility that the game would be more exciting with all this going on.
   92. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:38 PM (#5909736)
Not the lazy rote stuff we have 93+ percent of the time now.


For the record, just because you mentioned the 93 percent earlier in the thread doesn't mean that's the actual number.

   93. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:40 PM (#5909738)
The problem is that many pitchers, including almost all righties, are basically incapable of making a split-second pickoff in response to a runner going. So you can run on a righty the moment he begins his motion, and if you're fast at all, you have a 95% chance of taking second base. The only chance the defense has of getting him is by calling for a planned pickoff. This will be rare.


It would be interesting how much more, if any, this affected righthanders than lefthanders.
   94. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:42 PM (#5909739)
For the record, just because you mentioned the 93 percent earlier in the thread doesn't mean that's the actual number.
Exactly - that's what the plus is for! It might be anywhere up to 97, 98.
So you can run on a righty the moment he begins his motion, and if you're fast at all, you have a 95% chance of taking second base.
This, however, seems like a strong overstatement.
   95. bbmck Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:50 PM (#5909744)
Can't exclude inning ending outings but finished game can be isolated so I removed those games.

1908-1945: BF 0-2 and didn't finish game is pretty rare, 1 per 11.55 games in 1940 and next lowest there are 5 seasons with 1 per 13.xx

1946 drops to 7.81 and stays pretty stable for 5 years with 9.04 in 1951 and then the free fall begins. 5.08 to 5.41 during 1955-1961, another drop to 4.01 in 1962, bottoms out at 3.36 in 1970 and tops out at 5.56 in 1978 through 1986 and then the transition period: 1987: 2.94, 1988: 2.67, 1989: 3.3, 1990: 2.96, 1991: 2.54, 1992: 2.05.

1993-2019 it's never higher than 1.89 in 1993 or lower than 1.15 in 2015. 1.15 to 1.59 for 2001-2019 and in theory won't happen in 2020.
   96. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 05:51 PM (#5909746)
This, however, seems like a strong overstatement.


How strong? Would it be 90%? There's a very significant difference between "run as soon as he lifts his toe" and "run as soon as he's begun a complete motion."
   97. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2019 at 06:02 PM (#5909749)
Of course the wizards like Andy Pettitte might be mostly unaffected.
   98. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 18, 2019 at 06:21 PM (#5909753)
How strong? Would it be 90%? There's a very significant difference between "run as soon as he lifts his toe" and "run as soon as he's begun a complete motion."
I dunno - it would probably vary from pitcher to pitcher, no? But I wouldn't think the delta between "toe lifted" and "committed to pitching to the plate" would be big enough to create a "virtually guaranteed" steal against the vast majority of pitchers.
   99. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2019 at 06:24 PM (#5909754)
I dunno - it would probably vary from pitcher to pitcher, no? But I wouldn't think the delta between "toe lifted" and "committed to pitching to the plate" would be big enough to create a "virtually guaranteed" steal against the vast majority of pitchers.


We could always go with the no-balk rule. That way no one would ever steal.
   100. Walt Davis Posted: December 18, 2019 at 07:54 PM (#5909770)
But mid-inning pitching changes won't be affected by this. Only the second mid-inning pitching change.

Sure but there already aren't very many of those which is the crux of the debate about what will this rule actually accomplish. This fangraphs article puts it at 489 times in nearly 2200 games. Let's call that 3 times a day across MLB. We've shaved about 24 seconds off the average game time (say 6 minutes spread over 15 games). That article also looks at particular pitchers -- Oliver Perez led the way with 19 such appearances but then he made 67 appearances overall. It looks at particular teams and Cleveland was pretty well out in front but doing it about once every 4 games.

Of course it will only get rid of some of those 2nd changes. Whenever the guy fails to get 2-3 of his batters, he's probably coming out. Even if he's gotten 2 of 3, now with two outs, the manager is still likely to play platoon advantage with batter #4 when, previously, maybe he'd have brought this pitcher in for batter #2. So in at least some cases, presumably a fairly small percentage, all we're doing is delaying the arrival of the extra reliever.

All that said, it's one of those things that isn't really a big deal but is annoying as hell when it's happening to you. It's blown out of proportion but that makes it a PR problem and there's nothing wrong with a cosmetic change that gets rid of a PR problem. I don't think the "strategy" being lost here is a big deal either so it's close enough to a cosmetic change.
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