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Thursday, June 25, 2020

The part of fan-free baseball nobody is talking about

Welcome to a very subtle alteration that would seem to be coming in the new world of fan-free big league baseball. (Note: There still may be some teams who host fans at some point during the 2020 season, but the vast majority of clubs will be playing front of empty ballparks to begin with.)

“I think stolen bases in Major League Baseball will be down because guys can hear,” the pitcher explained.

“When I was playing Little League or Pony Ball and it’s just your parents in the stands, literally the first baseman was like, ‘Hey, he’s about to steal.’ And you step off. But in the big leagues you have to be screaming it and the first baseman is the one looking like an idiot yelling, ‘His lead is big! His lead is big!’ Now it’s going to be like, ‘It’s big. It’s bigger. Are you going step off?’ It will be great. Growing up, communication in baseball …You don’t think people communicate. You watch a soccer game and you don’t know anything. Now you watch a soccer game without fans and you can hear guys talking. ‘One on you!’ ‘Left, left, left.’ Like pickup basketball. … You can’t hear in the NBA when music is playing and crowds are going. Now that part of the game is going to be so much smoother, so much easier. Communication in baseball is actually going to matter. Before it didn’t matter. It was more hand gestures and stuff. Now you can talk.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 25, 2020 at 02:04 PM | 41 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fans

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   1. flournoy Posted: June 25, 2020 at 08:58 PM (#5959550)
So quiet that you can hear the bang of the trash cans!
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: June 25, 2020 at 09:06 PM (#5959554)
We'll finally be able to hear, "Hey, batter batter. Hey, batter, batter....swing."

   3. Cblau Posted: June 25, 2020 at 09:31 PM (#5959557)
I'll be interested to see how the lack of crowds affects the home field advantage. It's a little doubtful we'll have a big enough sample size to say for sure, though.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: June 25, 2020 at 09:49 PM (#5959560)
2: We went with the SWING BATTER BATTER right from the get-go. no foreplay on my neighborhood ball fields*

* - except for that one night near the end of junior year...
   5. Buck Coats Posted: June 25, 2020 at 10:46 PM (#5959564)
Are steals down in the KBO? Seems like this would be relevant
   6. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: June 25, 2020 at 10:46 PM (#5959565)
3 - sample sizes are small but so far the German and English soccer leagues have seen a drop in performance from home teams since the restart.
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 25, 2020 at 11:02 PM (#5959567)
Now it’s going to be like, ‘It’s big. It’s bigger. Are you going step off?’ It will be great.
Oh goody.
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: June 26, 2020 at 12:17 AM (#5959573)
‘It’s big. It’s bigger. Are you going step off?’

but enough about my junior year late-night neighborhood ball fields dalliance
   9. depletion Posted: June 26, 2020 at 01:08 AM (#5959579)
Someone can look at Florida Marlins late season day games, when they're 25 games out or so. See if there are fewer steals when there are 180 people scattered around the stands.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: June 26, 2020 at 03:59 AM (#5959585)
Many years ago now, one of the small conference bball tournaments was played with no fans because there'd been an outbreak on one of the teams (measles I think). Watched some of it on ESPN and ... you could really hear the sneaker noise. Maybe you don't need to mike the floor in that scenario ESPN or at least turn the volume down.

Hopefully we'll get a kid sold with the "the ball makes a special sound when it comes off his bat" hype. I do wonder just how much noise it makes when Joey Gallo (say) really gets ahold of one.

Since you'd have no problem maintaining social distance, why not let those drummer guys in. If Ronnie Woo Woo is still around, the Cubs could bring him in.

Trivia: Are we going to have walk-up music?

EDIT: Sounds of Silence, Hush, Oh So Quiet
   11. catomi01 Posted: June 26, 2020 at 08:43 AM (#5959591)
Trivia: Are we going to have walk-up music?

EDIT: Sounds of Silence, Hush, Oh So Quiet


4'33"
   12. John M. Perkins Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:14 AM (#5959602)
I believe simulated baseball has about the same home field advantage as live baseball. Some of it is fitting the skill set to the ballpark, but most of it is batting last.
   13. Stevey Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:25 AM (#5959606)
The part that nobody is talking about is that the owners burned about 100 games of the season arguing that they wouldn't make money because they couldn't sell tickets, and as soon as a schedule is set are like "we're going to sell tickets now".
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:31 AM (#5959607)

I believe simulated baseball has about the same home field advantage as live baseball. Some of it is fitting the skill set to the ballpark, but most of it is batting last.


I was under the impression the idea of the value of last licks was dismissed. What exactly is the argument that it's an advantage?

(I can think of one situation where the additional information that comes from batting second would be helpful, but it would be in the worst possible scenario. If you bat last in extra innings and the opposing team has scored two runs, you would know never to use any kind of one-run strategies when you're on offense. But being allowed to optimize your decision making process doesn't help much when you're in a multiple-run hole in extras).

I've long suspected that HFA in baseball was related to two issues - familiarity with/ability to tailor the personnel to the ballpark and the travel advantage that comes from homestands/road trips.



   15. kubiwan Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:43 AM (#5959611)
the owners burned about 100 games of the season


Uhhh....no. The VIRUS killed off most of those games. I think it was possible for baseball to return at the start of July, but by then 80 or so games were already wiped out. Heck, AS IS, baseball is returning before the NBA, roughly at the same time as the NHL, and about 2 weeks behind MLS.
   16. Ron J Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:50 AM (#5959612)
#14 I'd think the best test for the structural home field advantage (IE the advantage of batting last) would be to compare the record of home teams in general compared to games tied after 8 complete. At that point the home team always can adapt to the situation. Play for one run when the visitor hasn't scored, etc. Unclear to me how big a deal this is but it shouldn't be zero.
   17. Greg Pope Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:59 AM (#5959615)
The part that nobody is talking about is that the owners burned about 100 games of the season arguing that they wouldn't make money because they couldn't sell tickets, and as soon as a schedule is set are like "we're going to sell tickets now".

Under the laws of supply and demand, could the teams make money by selling a small number of tickets? Sell to groups of 10, but only one group per section of the stadium. The groups are isolated, but you could charge a lot for them because you wouldn't have that many. Or even more extreme, only sell luxury boxes. If there's only 30 home games and a team has 20 luxury boxes, then you can sell 600 groups for the year, probably for quite a bit.

Whether they'd make enough for it to be worth it, I don't know.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: June 26, 2020 at 11:17 AM (#5959620)

#14 I'd think the best test for the structural home field advantage (IE the advantage of batting last) would be to compare the record of home teams in general compared to games tied after 8 complete. At that point the home team always can adapt to the situation. Play for one run when the visitor hasn't scored, etc. Unclear to me how big a deal this is but it shouldn't be zero.


Looking around, I see one fellow looked at all extra inning records between 1957-2007 and found home teams had a .521 winning percentage, so less than home team's performance through 9. I don't know how much that tells us.
   19. PreservedFish Posted: June 26, 2020 at 11:25 AM (#5959624)
#14 - isn't it helpful knowing that 1 run will definitively win the game? It certainly changes the win expectancy of small-ball strategies.

Also, does tailoring the personnel to the ballpark really happen? Maybe in a handful of unique circumstances, like Fenway's strange outfield shape, but that has to be an incredibly minor influence. Familiarity makes more sense to me. But given that HFA is stronger in the NFL and NBA, which have identical playing surfaces and nothing really equivalent even to an unfamiliar batter's eye, gotta assume that the crowd (and its effect on officiating) is fairly significant.

   20. Mike Webber Posted: June 26, 2020 at 11:27 AM (#5959626)
Don't you find it hard to believe that in gambling circles that no one is talking about this?
   21. Mike Webber Posted: June 26, 2020 at 11:54 AM (#5959634)
Also, does tailoring the personnel to the ballpark really happen?


Does it happen less than it used to? I'm sure that is true. In the past I bet you'd see it more with players hitting characteristics, but now you see it more with their defensive characteristics.

Here are some instances where I think you might still see it, not counting the weird short porch/Green Monster type of situations -

places with larger total area outfields Denver and Kansas City still generally have better outfielders generally than say the Cubs or Houston. You don't see many Schwarber or Gattis types getting OF playing time in the bigger area outfields.

The A's still have corner infielders that can cover a ton of area in foul territory, I'd guess places with not much foul territory might not ever consider this. I guess that's kind of like a green monster effect though.

Teams will still look for power hitters that are LH or RH depending on their field configuration, even when it's not as obvious as the Green Monster/Crawford Boxes/Yankee Short Porch.

I think signing free agent pitchers with a specific pitch type selection might be a place where you'd see it turn up based on altitude and home run park factors.
   22. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 26, 2020 at 12:16 PM (#5959644)
Don't you find it hard to believe that in gambling circles that no one is talking about this?
We should probably worry about someone deliberately infecting certain players or teams to win big bets.
   23. Mike Webber Posted: June 26, 2020 at 12:41 PM (#5959650)
Don't you find it hard to believe that in gambling circles that no one is talking about this?
We should probably worry about someone deliberately infecting certain players or teams to win big bets.


I meant changes in home field advantage due to lack of crowds, but yeah I guess I have the time to worry about Nathan Detroit figuring out a way to get a covid positive urchin to ask Gary Sanchez for an autograph and handing him a covid loaded Topps Heritage to sign.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: June 26, 2020 at 01:00 PM (#5959654)
gotta assume that the crowd (and its effect on officiating) is fairly significant.


I've always assumed the crowd in baseball had almost no influence on the outcome.
   25. Rally Posted: June 26, 2020 at 02:41 PM (#5959685)
Let's see what's going on with SB in Korea:

.85 attempts per game, 70.5% success

2019

.98 attempts, 70.1% success.

So attempts are down a bit.
   26. Sunday silence Posted: June 26, 2020 at 06:03 PM (#5959742)
I've long suspected that HFA in baseball was related to two issues - familiarity with/ability to tailor the personnel to the ballpark and the travel advantage that comes from homestands/road trips.


the last article that was debated here was focused on the idea of familiarity. I.e. that being in one's familiar surroundings didnt hurt as much as being in an unfamiliar place. One can sort of understand this in practical terms say on vacation, when you put your keys in some place you're not sure of, and you fumble going down the steps of the motel.

As some sort of clincher the article indicated that HFA seemed to drop off as the game went on. WHich reinforces the notion of familiarity/unfamiliarity. The same effect was found in football and basketball I think in the same article.

Have no idea how accurate all this is. But I think the idea bears consideration.
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 26, 2020 at 07:07 PM (#5959759)
But I think the idea bears consideration.
”I’m on it.” —R. Manfred
   28. Sunday silence Posted: June 26, 2020 at 07:23 PM (#5959763)


I was under the impression the idea of the value of last licks was dismissed. What exactly is the argument that it's an advantage?


He just said it: Simulated baseball. I dunno, really but thats interesting that simulated baseball is producing a home field advantage. Does it build in that sort of factor in individual player's skills? LIke make them a bit better at home?
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: June 26, 2020 at 07:32 PM (#5959766)
He just said it: Simulated baseball. I dunno, really but thats interesting that simulated baseball is producing a home field advantage. Does it build in that sort of factor in individual player's skills? LIke make them a bit better at home?


Home field advantage is a real thing, so I'm assuming that's baked into simulated baseball. But the most recent study I saw on the topic of last licks determined it conferred no advantage.
   30. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:15 PM (#5959783)
Do with this what you will but from playing a bunch of Microleague and DiamondMind then coaching youth baseball I think batting last has an advantage. It feels a bit easier to manage your pitching staff and react to the game situation.

I also remember something Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four. Once you get to the bottom of the 8th you effectively have six outs compared to three outs to break a tie. It’s always stuck with me.

I mean do with that what you will but it does feel like an advantage.
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:40 PM (#5959787)
I also remember something Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four. Once you get to the bottom of the 8th you effectively have six outs compared to three outs to break a tie. It’s always stuck with me.


If you get to the bottom of the eighth tied, you have an actual advantage, because you've scored the same number of runs as the other team in three fewer outs. But it's not inherent.

I'm sure last licks feels like an advantage. I just don't believe it is.

It's obviously an advantage in college football OT to go second, because you know what you have to do, and you can use your downs fully. But there's little strategy in baseball, and it tends to exist on both sides in the same way (playing for one run, playing to avoid giving up one run).
   32. Howie Menckel Posted: June 27, 2020 at 12:10 AM (#5959802)
if you bat in the top of the 10th and you get a leadoff double and have a weak hitter coming up, it seems to be a modest disadvantage strategically to not know what the opponent will do in the bottom of the inning.

the home team, meanwhile, if it knows the visitors have not scored, knows that in that same scenario, one run ends the game.

(granting that sacrifices have fallen out of favor, so I'm sure there are better examples. but it would seem that information has a non-zero amount of power. might be tiny, but how could it be zero?)
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: June 27, 2020 at 12:22 AM (#5959803)
(granting that sacrifices have fallen out of favor, so I'm sure there are better examples. but it would seem that information has a non-zero amount of power. might be tiny, but how could it be zero?).


Of course, information helps. It also helps the offensive team to know if the visitors plated two in the top of the frame not to employ any one-run strategies in the bottom.

Of course, not all decisions are made by the offense. Knowing that one run wins the game means a team can play the infield in on a second and third situation without worry about the bigger inning, or IBB a more dangerous hitter without concern. Or, if the visitors get those two runs in the top of the frame, they might choose not to hold the runner in the bottom of the inning to buy the first baseman a little more range.

There are small, strategic decisions that exist on both sides of the diamond.

   34. dave h Posted: June 27, 2020 at 09:08 AM (#5959808)
Edit: a stale, flat Coke to SoSH for saying the same thing 9 hours earlier.

You shouldn't just focus on the offensive strategies. The defense probably has more strategies at its disposal - IF/OF in or back, IBB - and it is much more suited to actually determine the player involved since replacing a pitcher is more likely to be beneficial than replacing a batter. If that's the case, then you want to be on defense when there is more information.
   35. Greg Pope Posted: June 27, 2020 at 12:59 PM (#5959831)
it is much more suited to actually determine the player involved since replacing a pitcher is more likely to be beneficial than replacing a batter. If that's the case, then you want to be on defense when there is more information.

This is what I was thinking. The pitcher has the largest role in run prevention and the defense gets to pick their pitcher knowing the situation when they're away.
   36. Howie Menckel Posted: June 27, 2020 at 04:48 PM (#5959865)
thanks, 33 and 34.

reminds me of this NFL scenario:

you trail, 31-16, with 8 minutes left and then score a TD - and all the announcers will tell you to kick the extra point to get within 8 (mainly so you'll keep watching). the problem there is that you may get the ball back, milk the clock down to 3 seconds, score a TD - and then miss the 2-point conversion and lose 31-29.

but if you go for 2 the first time, either you get within 31-24, and now you know you're very likely fine eating clock if you get the ball back and scoring a TD on the last play in regulation).

if you miss the 2-pter, now you trail 31-22. bummer, but now you know that, well you Schrodinger's cat is dead and you can adjust your play accordingly. that might mean you score a TD quickly, because in this scenario you know that you also will need a FG.

(33-yard EPs and changes in onside kick rules make this one somewhat hypothetical, so let's pretend it's 10 years ago.)
   37. Sunday silence Posted: June 28, 2020 at 02:10 PM (#5959997)
really good pt in no. 33
   38. Jim P Posted: June 29, 2020 at 11:23 AM (#5960136)
Large part of home field advantage comes from umpire bias, which is influenced by the fans. "Scorecasting" by Jon Wertheim calculated umpire bias to be something like 1/3 of the HFA. Also there are experiments going on now in the sports leagues that have reopened but results so far are mixed (and probably not enough of a sample size).
   39. Rally Posted: June 29, 2020 at 11:50 AM (#5960149)
I assume that simulation programmers just build HFA into the game, making the home players a bit better and road worse, or something.

This appears to be the case in OOTP. I’ve played since 2015. Before that I simmed using APBA (1997-2014) and I don’t think there was any HFA. From 1987-96, I played Microleague and have no idea if there was an observed HFA. Microleague kept track of player stats but to record team records I had to write it down, yes, with pen and ink. That’s how primitive things were back then. I still have some of the notebooks so if I cared to waste the time I could see whether the game had HFA.
   40. Jim P Posted: June 29, 2020 at 01:56 PM (#5960187)
#36, not only in that situation, but if you are down 14 in that situation and score a touchdown, it makes sense to go for 2. If you make it, then a TD and PAT puts you ahead. If you miss it, you have another chance to tie it up. You only need to convert 38% of your 2pters to come out even (assuming 100% on kicking).
   41. SoSH U at work Posted: June 29, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5960188)

#36, not only in that situation, but if you are down 14 in that situation and score a touchdown, it makes sense to go for 2. If you make it, then a TD and PAT puts you ahead. If you miss it, you have another chance to tie it up. You only need to convert 38% of your 2pters to come out even (assuming 100% on kicking).


I've long wanted to see teams do this.

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